If Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’ ever spawned a sequel it would look a lot like Operator, the drama that stars Martin Starr and Mae Whitman. In the feature debut from Logan Kibens, Operator tells the story of the lead coder of a team programming a computer operator for the help line of a health-insurance company. When the team is tasked with finding a new voice for the help line, Joe (Starr) comes across an idea that involves his wife Emily (Whitman) taking on the role as the voice operated system. Emily works at the front desk of a luxurious hotel, when Joe hears her on the phone displaying her calm, cool, collected manner towards customers he realizes that he may have just found his voice.
This offbeat dramedy features stellar performances from Starr and Whitman rounded out by an ensemble that features comedic roles from Retta, Nat Faxon and Cameron Esposito. Operator isn’t the typical indie drama as it addresses issues that become more relatable as technology continues to advance. Set in LA, we go inside the life of Joe, following his everyday routine. When Joe and his team first introduce voice operator Emily they receive universal acclaim, real life Emily soon becomes jealous that Joe is committing too much to the system and not enough to her.
Their marriage begins to deteriorate right in front of their eyes. Joe’s obsession with the program soon becomes unhealthy as his world begins to fall apart. A 90 minute film, every time Operator is about to go down the cliché route it takes a surprising yet satisfying turn. First time feature film director Logan Kibens does a fantastic job getting laughs and dramatic moments out of the cast in this project that is very close to her heart. Operator expands on the idea of ‘Her’ while still separating itself and making it a more surreal, unique experience.
Operator is a breath of fresh air and worthy of a watch. 90 minutes of highs and lows, this film tackles a subject matter that becomes more relevant by the day. We live in a world where we keep our electronics attached to us at all times, our time spent with technology can factor into our time spent with our loved ones. This film offers an authentic look at the idea of someone loving machine more than man. “People learn everything online…I’m on board to backtrack a bit and stay in touch with our humanity” said Starr during the Q&A. The chemistry between Starr and Whitman is genuine and Kibens gets the message across in this delightful indie dramedy.