Theordore Twombly was a sweet, soulful and complex man who lives in a virtual world. If you’ve seen the movie Her, you would recognize him as its main character played by Joaquin Phoenix. Little seems to be real in Theodore’s world. His work involves writing heartfelt letters on behalf of others he does not know. For recreation, he cozies up to a larger than life video game. Outside of the venues, he has little interaction with others, expect for the sporadic encounters with his neighbors…and an earwig that pretty much stays implanted in his ear and serves as his lifeline to his parallel universe.
To be sure, Theodore lives in two worlds, preferring the company of electronic stimulation of his senses to the extent possible. Yet despite all the stimulation, Theodore appears to be a lonely man. Having experienced a recent divorce, he strives to find pleasure in this detached reality but never quite getting there. That is, until he meets Samantha. She turns him on. She seems to provide him with what he lacked despite all his stimulation. She makes up for the pain of the loss of relationship and draws him to herself. She is an OS system with a seductive voice and witty charm. If you’ve not seen the movie, you might find this strange but it seems even stranger watching it. It is both odd and captivating the way Theodore finds relief for his frustrations, need for companionship and even sexual tension through a relationship with an OS system, whose voice streams through his constant companion of the ear wig.
Yet Theodore instinctively knows there is something better. Something is missing. Why else does he search? He knows there is a goodness to be grasped that will touch his soul – something tangible; something real. He mistakenly believes it is in this virtual reality. As the movie progresses and the relationship between he and Samantha explore depths beyond human imagination, he simultaneously finds relief and discomfort. Samantha ends up pulling the plug on the relationship, leaving Theodore grasping to fill the void. Through the complexities of this human-machine relationship, his friendship with his neighbor Amy intensifies, and the machine dumped Theodore and Amy end up turning to each other for solace. Though safely now in boundaries of human relationship, it is nonetheless a glimpse that we yearn for something more. Continue reading