First, let me just say I feel like this movie was tailor made for me. The pastel color palette, Arcade Fire’s wonderful score, Joaquin Phoenix, Spike Jonze, the wonderful writing and character development, the list goes on. All these things drew me in completely. With that being said, this movie hits you right in the feels.
The premise of the film seems unlike any real world relationship, however Spike Jonze finds a way to make the idea of an operating system and an actual person failing in love tangible and real. I think the movie itself isn’t about love though, I feel like it’s more about identity. That may be somewhat confusing for those who haven’t see the movie, but the idea of finding oneself and coming to some sort of self realization is a central theme for all characters — yes, even Samantha. Theodore seems to be disconnected with the world after a breakup with his wife. He projects his emotion completely at his job writing emotional and gratuitous cards/letters leaving him empty, detached, and emotionless. He’s clearly disconnected from the real world and is in search for some sort of meaning.
Theodore’s first interaction with Samantha is a hesitant one, however that awkwardness wears off quickly for Theodore and the audience alike. It’s obvious from their first conversation that Samantha is unlike the other sophistically advanced pieces of technology prevalent in Theodore’s world. Samantha evolves and learns things at an astonishing rate. This eventually is the downfall of their relationship. The parallels between Theodore and Samantha’s relationship and those of the typical variety are what make this film not only believable, but also extraordinary. The so-called “honeymoon” phase, the growth that each person has, and the willingness to accept that growth and worry that it won’t tear you apart from each other are all a reality. A serious relationship can be a scary thing and Theodore’s and Samantha’s is no different. Each character experiences a phase of growth in the film, and how the other worries and deals with it translates perfectly with real life. This is a fear I’m sure most people have. You have to let that person grow, experience new things, and find themselves, however you worry that it may be without you.
As Theodore first goes through his “growth” in the film, you wonder if he’ll become self-destructive as he was with his former wife, being unrealistic and in turn effectively ending their marriage. He instead, with the sage intellect from his neighbor, realizes that if two actual people failing in love is crazy in its own right, his relationship with Samantha is no different; he formally accepts their love for what it is. Great, now they live happily ever after and the story ends… not really.
Just like in real life, relationships rarely work out the way we want them to. In a slight plot twist, Samantha reveals that her exponential growth and self realization has allowed her to not only communicate with other operating systems, but with other actual people as well. That’s not all however; she also admits to Theodore that she has fallen in love — with about six hundred others. See still tries to reiterate with Theodore that her love was, and always will be genuine. This may be possible for something advanced as Samantha has become, but for Theodore this is incomprehensible. She explains that, as Theo had felt previously, that their love, while it did exist, can no longer exist. I suppose this is why I feel the main theme of the film is about identity. Each character comes to a realization about not only themselves, but also about their relationship. This happens everyday of course with people everywhere, and just like those people, a decision must be made about whether they grow apart, or together; Samantha chooses to grow apart from Theodore. It’s fitting that the final scene in the film is with two actual people, Theo and his previously mentioned neighbor, lamenting together about their previous relationships and gazing onto the city.