I found myself puzzling over the content, presentation and underlying suggestions of Spike Jonze’s Oscar-nominated movie “Her.” It is clever, subtly deep, in equal measures sweet and off-putting and emotionally complicated.
The movie, set in the not-too-distant future, centers around Theodore (played beautifully by Joaquin Phoenix), who is a successful writer-for-hire of personal notes and letters. He composes poignant love letters, healing condolence notes and perfect personal correspondence for a host of clients, yet we find that his wife has recently left him due—perhaps among other things—to his emotional inaccessibility and distance. Right off the bat, we are confronted with a rich and powerful INFJ tension—the beauty, vibrancy and verbal richness of the inner world compared with the often crowded and sensually overwhelming pull and demands of the outer world. This tension—a tug of war known by all INFJs and anyone close to one–is played out poignantly by INFJ Theodore in this surprising Type movie gem.
Theodore’s inner world is a well-spring of feeling that is continually tapped in the composition of richly composed letters, apologies and admissions of love to other people, but the opportunities to engage in the messiness and visceral nature of love in the real world seem either dangerous or somehow lack-luster in comparison. With all of this as a back-drop, Theodore develops a deep connection and then romance with a new artificial intelligence-driven operating system, and the dramatic tug-of-war between Theodore’s inner and outer worlds is complete. Which world will ultimately offer him more meaning? Where will he feel and express his love? Which will he choose?
“Her” is a great story. It is futuristic but a story entirely of our current time and space. Like the INFJ Type the movie dramatizes, the story and its telling are clever, deliberately paced, sensitive and quietly compelling—the story stuck with me for days and still resonates in the back of my mind.