Reviewing Her

Post Author: Traci Smith

When a friend encouraged me to see the movie Her a few weeks ago, my obligatory “What’s it about?” was met with “Huh?” when I learned it was about a romance between a human being and an operating systemLove. “You will love it,” was the confident response. I did.

The film is stunning on many levels with beautiful cinematography and art direction and a thought-provoking screenplay. Most of all, though, Her is remarkable in its restraint. Whereas so many movies portray the future as a place of frenzy and hyperactivity with all sorts of moving parts and beeping gadgets, Her is brilliantly understated. There is nothing in this film to distract the audience from the fact that it is, fundamentally, a love story. In the end, when Theodore (the human) says  to Samantha (the operating system) “I’ve never loved anyone the way I love you,” it’s completely believable.

Those who evaluate Her on its success as a critique of technology’s role in our lives (as Richard Brody did in the New Yorker) completely miss the point. Her is a movie about love, more specifically what happens to love when people change. When Samantha is “born” at the beginning of the film, Theodore is understandably skeptical. “How do you work?” he asks. She tells him that she’s intuitive and has a lot of data, but more importantly, she is constantly evolving and changing. As the movie continues we realize that, just like in any relationship, Samantha and Theodore have to decide how they will cope with the fact that the other is changing.

There is a lot of material in this movie for preachers and theologians: What is real? What is connection? What is true love? Most compelling for Christians (in my view) is the question What does it mean to be alive, yet not have a physical body? These questions and others provide rich questions for discussion.

That said, this is probably not a movie for a church discussion group to watch together, for variety of reasons. First, Her is distractingly full of the “f-bomb.” Not since Good Will Hunting has the “granddaddy of all words” been tossed around so frequently in a film. (At least a film I’ve seen.) Second, there’s a couple of significant sex scenes in this movie. By that I do not mean clothing flung everywhere and naked bodies prancing by, yet it’s still steamy. Not for kids. Incidentally, the fact that the clothes are not flung and the bodies are not prancing leads to an even more intense and poignant moment, which is yet another topic for discussion.

Her is a beautifully written, directed and shot film with so much great material for discussion. I highly recommend it and if anyone asks me “What’s it about?” I think I’ll just say “Go see it for yourself.”

Traci Smith is pastor of Northwood Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, Texas and author of Seamless Faith: Simple Practices for Your Family’s Daily LIfe (Chalice Press: 2014).

Image by: ideal ablaze
Used with permission
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