All of the previous points have lead to this: I truly believe Her is a response to Lost in Translation. Anyone who is married, or has been with someone for a very long time, can understand just how important their significant other is to them. As Theodore says, there’s something very special and unique about sharing your life with someone. Considering Spike Jonze has only been married once, we must come to the conclusion that his movie is essentially a letter to his ex-wife. It’s as if it’s a form of therapy. He’s had all these feelings inside of him for the longest time and has finally found a way to let it all out the only way he knows how: through film. This is what makes Her such an incredibly unique experience.
The movie begins and ends with Theodore constructing a letter. In the beginning, Theodore talks directly to the screen. We eventually see that he’s writing a letter for someone else, which is his job. Then, during one of the final moments of the film, we see Theodore constructing another letter, this time it’s directly to his ex-wife. In this letter, he admits all his wrongdoings and tells her that he’s finally ready to move on. I don’t think Spike Jonze could make his intentions any more clear with that scene.
With Her, we are seeing an artist bare his soul in ways that would be too embarrassing for almost anyone else. Spike Jonze lays it all out there. In an interview with The Guardian last September, Spike Jonze basically admits this, saying that his inspiration came from former collaborator, Charlie Kaufman.
“On Synechdoche, New York, which I was originally going to direct, he said he wanted to try to write everything he was thinking about in that moment – all the ideas and feelings at that time – and put it into the script. I was very inspired by that, and tried to do that in [Her]”
Watching Lost in Translation for the first time after seeing Her, I suddenly began to feel sad for Giovanni Ribisi’s character, John. I am sure when everyone first watched this movie, myself included, we saw John the way Charlotte saw John. We would all think that this guy is completely full of himself. How could he leave his wife all alone like this? Why doesn’t he give her any attention?
But after watching Her, I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for him. He’s completely unaware that he’s doing anything wrong to Charlotte. He’s a young guy who has hit the jackpot: a beautiful wife and an amazing career. His career has taken him on a wild path that, unfortunately, has left Charlotte feeling lonely. Even though you don’t see him that often, you can tell he genuinely cares for her: he puts his arm around her, he urges her to stop smoking, he buys her wine. He wants to make her happy, but ultimately, it’s to no avail. The older version of John, Theodore, finally understands all of this at the end of Her. When he recites that letter to Catherine, he’s staring out his window… and it’s as if he’s trying to reach that young woman who’s looking out the window in her hotel room in Tokyo, Japan. Charlotte and Theodore seem like kindred spirits, it’s just a shame that they found each other at the wrong time in their lives. And in the wrong movies.
by Ken Guidty