Review "Operator" (2016)
Title: Operator (2016)
Director: Logan Kibens
Stars (Primary Actors): Martin Starr, Mae Whitman
Bias: I’ve been in love with Martin Starr since that first endearingly nerdy smile in Freaks and Geeks (1999). I’m also a huge Mae Whitman fan and have been since her comical approach to Ann Veal on Arrested Development (2003). I am so into the “man falls in love with technology” subgenre [a la Her (2013)] so when I heard it was getting a more down-to-earth spin, I was immediately excited. The writer and director are both women from Michigan, so there is also a bit of built-in pride and obligation for me to want to support them.
In a Nutshell: Joe (Martin Starr), an anxiety-ridden programmer, aims to develop the first empathetic “Siri.” He uses the one voice that always calms him down, that of his budding comedian wife Emily (Mae Whitman). The unintended consequences from mixing work and personal life put a strain on the pair’s relationship. Joe begins to take solace in the machine version of his wife that he once could only get from the real person, and the downward spiral of their relationship is felt deeply by them both.
The Critique: Even though the pair does drama extremely well, more comedy could have been packed into this. The film’s IMDB and Wikipedia pages list it as a comedy first and foremost, when that is certainly not the case. The director’s artistic sensibility may alienate some , and I feel like her strict classical score could be taken as a bit pretentious.
Shout-Out(s): The first-time director showed off her extremely high taste with the detailed and believable graphics used in the film, created with a professional graphic designer. Also huge shout-out to both the the director for casting Martin Starr and for his acting ability in the film. I would be hard pressed to name another role of his which was multidimensional. It comes in stark contrast to the deadpan, robotic cynic he usually plays (looking at you Silicon Valley and basically every Judd Apatow production).
To Go, Rent, or to Netflix: Netflix.
Photo Credit: Cruze & Company