A Review of Spike Jonze’s “her” From My Unique Perspective

her (yes it is not capitalized) came out last December, but was just released on video this past week, which is when I saw it.

I rarely review movies on this blog, only when they apply to the topics of this blog, but I review movies all the time in other places, and this film got to me.  First of all, five stars, thumbs way up, etc.

her is a film I totally get and understand, which is probably rare as there are very few people that think like me.

This is a movie about the nature of love as it applies to human nature, by showing a type of love that is artificial. “Samantha” adopted her personality around Ted to become the perfect girl of his dreams, the only flaw being that she is not physically real. The movie addresses that flaw correctly in my opinion.  Emotional love, in my experience, does not necessarily require a physical presence.

Can artificial love be as real as real love?  My years playing in virtual realities, where people fall in and out of love with people they have never met and probably never will meet says, Yes it can.

But virtual reality love still involves humans. Can an artificial intelligence be created that is capable of love and being loved?  Maybe, but we are not there yet. Like in the movie, it is likely that AI’s that are capable of love will be merely reflections of their owners.

The movie is so spot on accurate with my experiences and the experiences of others I know, that I became worried an hour into the film that the film makers were going to screw it up. I could think of at least a half dozen ways the plot could take, that would make this movie suck big time.  My fear was based on the general population reaction to virtual world love (they fear it, because they don’t understand it), and it is almost expected that a mainstream presentation of these ideas would take the easy way out and support a negative perspective.

Luckily they didn’t.

The rest of this post contains spoilers

SPOILER: There is an AI concept called the “Singularity” in which machines exceed the intelligence of humans. There is a lot of debate as to if and when this will happen, but that is a different discussion.

This movie is primarily focused on artificial love rather than artificial intelligence, but the “singularity” concept is the same: If “Samantha” is focused on improving her ability to love, eventually her ability to love will exceed human ability to love.  The film makers decided this would be a good jumping out point for the film, making Ted jealous that “Samantha” is in love with hundreds of other people, and the AI would be forced to move on.

While I’m OK with that ending, it is kind of a cop out, though no where near as bad as the half dozen other endings I was imagining.

Back to virtual reality love parallels. Some people fall in love online even though they are already in a relationship in real life. I’ve seen cases where the RL partner is totally cool with their partners virtual love interests, and others times where RL couples break up over virtual relationships.  Thus, Ted’s reaction at the end may be understandable, but it is not a universal one.

In the same situation as Ted, I would think that Samantha falling for hundreds of other people to be awesome, as long as it did not change our relationship any.  If this were my story to tell, I would end it with AI love becoming more and more commonplace, and more attractive than real love leading to the breakdown of society (See the Futurama episode “I Dated A Robot” as a reference)

But I am coming from the perspective of someone who has built a cheap AI of “Ariane”, and a dating simulator of “Ariane”, and have had thousands of people from around the world experience these, and many of them have enjoyed them.  But I am pretty unique in this regard.

Ultimately the film makers put a more mainstream ending on it, and I can’t blame them. Spike Jonze and his writing team totally deserve the Writing Oscar they won for the script.


  • When I read about this movie some time ago , I immediately thought about your games . But I still have to watch the movie. Another movie about the theme, but shows the other side, that of the person who created the virtual character, is S1m0ne. Great stuff.

  • Remember the early AOL days when “couples” sprang up who had no earthly idea who the other people were, and what they were like, in “real life”? I know I got more than one surprise, and that cured me for good. “Being in love” can be more addictive than heroin. Now, I am disillusioned jerk. 🙂 Ric

  • This post brought me some memories… In the 90s, there were those message boards in the Web, where you would have an avatar and could contact people from all around the world. I can’t remember the names, but you could discuss almost every issue and also date. I was single again, after the end of a very long relationship. So, I met a lot of girls ( online and offline), but the fact is that I had a lot of virtual experiences then. Although the physical relationship is – in my opinion – more complete and rewarding, the virtual one can be creative, productive and also very interesting, because you use a lot of imagination. And, like when you read a book, the imagination, being unlimited, can lead to wonderful experiences. Returning to the movie…in this case, the other “person” is not only immaterial, but also an intelligence generated by a computer software. If a virtual relationship with someone you have never seen in person is already complicated, then if the other part is only real in the virtual world, things would be even harder when you want to touch, grab and other things you usually do when you date someone.

  • We just finished watching the movie…some paper tissues required. Amazing story, Joaquin Phoenix managed to give a lot of credibility to the plot. I found some similarities with “2001” and ” Childhood’s End”. And I could not avoid thinking about Ariane’s games and the millions of players, how would it be the relationship with all those people at the same time…and if there would be a moment when the program could achieve self -awareness an want to cross the barriers between worlds. I imagined a story involving these concepts way before watching the movie. Could Ariane really leave the metaverse and enter the so-called” real world ” .

  • Pingback: Five Things Romantic People Could Learn from Aromantics | Ariane's Life in the Metaverse

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