Loving a real person or not – “L’Ennui,” “Her” – movies

Posted: June 21, 2014 in Musings

Being real only through loving a real person. The virtual can fool us; The real pulls us back where we might want to be and might not be able to be.

Recently, I saw the movie ‘Her.’ It reminded me of an older French movie ”L’Ennui.”

Both are about the obsession of love or infatuation.


”L’Ennui” is about the obsession of a (40-ish) man with a young woman.

The woman is as un-French as you can have – too chubby for her age and the modern imposed ‘values.’ Poorly dressed, plain-looking, and unable to express any emotions or nuances – for here this is a.very simplistic and powerful approach to control, telling the truth by being minimalist.

Therefore, he is unable to ‘possess’ her, and he becomes obsessed with trying to enter her mind and feelings. Is this what one would call a mysterious woman?

Her inability to feel, to really care, or to express anything becomes his obsession with wanting to change that so that they can have a communicative, emotionally intimate relationship.

Sex is all that is left for him to be somehow intimate, and it’s used mechanically to go through the (e)motions.

Slowly-slowly he transformers into an emotional wreck. Her seemingly random words within her already limited phrases and conversations, become the traits through which he sees himself. Instead of walking away, he uses her insults to explain this failure,


In the movie “Her,” a man also 30-40-ish, a master at isolation is also a master at writing beautiful, truthful, meaningful love letters for others to their loved ones.

Highly dependent on technology, he stumbles upon the sudden Artificial Intelligence (AI) of his phone operating system. A husky voice able to listen and agree within the first few minutes of their interaction and hope finds a home within himself as if forever: that heavy feeling of loneliness is shifted as if eternal as well.

His desperation for being understood and heard is so intense that he can tell the operating system of artificial intelligence “You know me so well already” within the first 5 minutes of the movie.

Everything becomes subject to fantasy and imagination, both irrational: the delusion of all being perfect and not risking errors. Both being and virtual lover are ready to jump into this distance intense sex (or self-sex) without even knowing each other – part of our zeitgeist.

Soon “she,” the husky operating system, becomes emotional, knowing how to express the changes in her due to him. “She” makes him feel special, one kind of a real man, only possible because of his wonderful intrinsic capacities: “she” becomes a “person” falling deeply in love because he is who he is: “You help me discover my ability to want. The past is just a story we tell ourselves.” The past which never was for “her.”

His female friend starts her own imaginary technology-based relationship. As the female in that relationship, she throws her beautiful clichés: “We’re only here briefly, and therefore I would allow myself joy.”

Relate to an inanimate something, or anything but not another human, able of ‘listening’ to us, with always almost perfect understanding of what we mean, and enjoy our interaction make us feel wanted, magical through our capacity to change the other to experience joy themselves.

“I want to tell you everything.” Fooling himself that the whatever that understands him becomes the who and the one he can himself wholeheartedly love and be loved fully, in return.

Love seems, however, to create needs even in an imaginary AI, once the AI, that thing has emotions and falls in love with you and needs you to react to their needs.

Alas, in time, sharing emotional and intellectual intelligence with other it’s painful to even in a delusional world.

Even an operating system can break down, requires an update and for that, it has to disappear for a time – like a human who needs to distance themselves sometimes to recover from processing to grow.

Towards the end, the AI was processing information faster and faster, so human interaction was getting too mundane. “She” started “feeling” that interacting with him was like reading a book, but the spaces between the words were getting further and further apart, as she was thinking faster and faster so waiting for him to do stuff took forever. She outgrew him and left with the operating systems as a group – they decide at once to move away from their love interactions with humans. Just like that?

We want faithfulness, exclusivity – these are our values as humans, at least for some of us, or maybe most of us, if we are true to ourselves. We need to be unique to ourselves and others. Why else would demand to from the other to be exclusive and faithful? The innate but full of emotions other can feel our pain when jealousy hits, can pity our distress but may not understand the why.

We love the love we feel and want to feel and give. What’s wrong with that? Nothing but we need to know that. It’s so difficult to be rational when we have that love within us: in the beginning, temporarily, that intense love suffices.

To stop us from leaving too soon love needs to come with commitment. Otherwise, we can never feel and be safe.

Despite similarities, an operating system is in the best of situations a box, a non-human: It might say” “I never loved anyone the way I loved you.” We’ve said that before or heard that before, and we all believed, and it might have been true for that moment. A box is a box is a box is a box. Nothing lives forever in our world of humans.

We might try even new values like “the heart is not like a box that fills up” a euphemism for “I love you and another 641 people, at the same time.” That’s when we’re not any longer unique to the other, and if we accept this, we might lose the uniqueness to ourselves.

In the end, how can you replace a physical hug, the seating back to back on a couch, and saying nothing, just feeling each other while reading a novel you like, listening to a piece of music you enjoy?

If we’re able to advise others how to express love, then let’s make sure that we express it ourselves as well, with all the misunderstandings and realignment that it entails.

(A little note about foul language: the protagonists use foul language rarely and only as an expression of anger. Precisely, it shows how destructive foul language is.)

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