The past is just a story we tell ourselves.

Prodded by the overwhelmingly good reviews, I saw Her last night. The most positive reviews called it was the best movie of 2013. The concept of a human falling in love with a smarter version of Siri sounded kind of ridiculous. But since writer-director Spike Jonze is uber-talented and the trailer looked good, I went.

It’s actually not a movie about the future or technology. It’s a classic story about being human: Relationships, connection, loneliness, struggling with life, and, most obviously, love. It’s funny, beautifully shot, features terrific acting + pacing, and works off a great screenplay. Loved it.

There’s a particular line in the movie that I was really struck by:

The past is just a story we tell ourselves.

(after some googling, I’ve discovered that Chuck Palahniuk, among others have served up some variation of this insight for years).

Like all things, there’s great variation here. Some people are better than others at not being pre-occupied by their past and letting their today and tomorrow become derailed by it. I am not one of the better people. Anyway, I loved this line because it distilled the truth that the past isn’t merely a set of facts or past events that is black and white. We imbue the past with the weight of story. Like a wound in our mouth, we then incessantly tongue that story  – feeling its texture, its shape, its pain, wondering if it’s still there…if it’s still the same. We don’t realize it’s a story. We accept the past as fact — it already happened…it had implications…of course it is what it was — when the past is actually a concoction of fact and emotion. The past is merely facts, like you and I are merely atoms and molecules.

It felt so welcoming. To hear the line, was to ease into a warm, freeing embrace. I walked out of the theater mesmerized by it.

I’m looking forward to more people seeing it so I can discuss.

5 thoughts on “The past is just a story we tell ourselves.

  1. That line also stuck with me. As well as “I think anyone who falls in love is a freak. I think its a form or socially acceptable insanity.” Its Amy Adams character that eventually truly demonstrates putting the past behind you and moving on as she appears to be the most emotionally stable.

    Each of the characters had such varying levels of emotion and different ways of manifesting their emotions into their physical lives. For Samantha, she goes way way beyond the (desire for) physical and evolves into something that the physical could never understand or even achieve (accept for maybe Amy Adams husband who turns to Buddhism. He may get closer than most). What a movie! I am watching it for the second time right now as I woke up thinking about all of the social, emotional and taboo barriers this move plays through.

    The first time I watched it was with my mom and wife. My mom hated it and and laughed at it. My wife thought it was a sci-fi romance movie. That’s why I am watching it again, alone. :O)

    Thank god for mainstream movies that go to places like this.

    R~

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