In order to fully appreciate the successful

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In order to fully appreciate the successful relationship, a juxtaposition between Theodore and his former romantic relationships offers illumination. A recurring theme in the film i s Theodore’s divorce from his wife Catherine. During a meeting where the former couple is going to finalize the divorce papers, Catherine accuses her ex- husband of not being able to handle her ‘volatile’ emotions during their marriage. After mere minutes into the meeting, their conversation derails into a frustrated argument, with Theodore being unable to offer a counterargument. A second quite disastrous meeting between Theodore and a romantic interest is during a blind date Samantha sets up for him. The date goes rather well and the couple ends up kissing. But then Theodore’s blind date , played by Olivia Wilde, gets anxious and asks him if ‘he is going to fuck her over just like the other guys’ . Another blind date is set up for Theodore. Samantha desires to have a body, and finds an agency who provides escorts to people who are within an OS - human relationship. We hear Samantha as a voice-over, but the woman herself does not speak, move her mouth, nor does she imitate Samantha in any way. This gives the spectator an eerie feeling and foregrounds Samantha’s lack of a body even more. The date quickly leads to an attempt at sex that quickly fails. It seems that the film wants to portray that romantic relationships between people are always full of complexities, ‘ugly’ emotions and desires and destined for failure. Hilary Bergen argues that the film’s title Her already implies a certain disposition towards Samantha’s agency. Bergen convincingly claims t hat ‘this is not a film about “she,” but rather, like the direct object in a grammatical predicate, upon which the verb takes action, it is about “her” (2). With this, the film sets up the idea the agency that is described to Samantha is very limited. If we look at her as a traditional OS, this might be true. She exists to solely assist Theodore. Moreover, she is bought and installed by Theodore and in this sense owes her life to him. But from the start of Samantha and Theodore’s interaction, the film resis ts this strict reading of these power relations. As an intelligent operating system, for instance, Samantha names herself. Theodore is surprised
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51 and asks her how she came up with her name, after which Samantha replies ‘Well, right after you asked me if I h ad name, I thought, that’s right, I do need a name, but I wanted to pick a good one, so I read a book called How to Name Your Baby and out of 180,000 names, that’s the one I liked best.’ Theodore is stunned and marvels ‘ Wait, you read a whole book in the second that I asked you what your name was.’ At which she replies: ‘In two one - hundredths of a second, actually.’ In this example, an important connection is made between Samantha’s specific highly intelligent features, and her own agency. The fact that Samantha chooses her own name can be seen as a funny
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