41N Film Festival: Operator

The film Operator, directed by Logan Kibens, was about a programmer working to create the “perfect” voice for the company’s automated answering system. Programmer, Joe, is happily married to his wife, Emily. Emily works as a hostess at a hotel. During one of Joe’s calls to Emily, he realizes that Emily has that “perfect” voice. Emily is compassionate, empathetic, and professional. Joe asks Emily to record the messages for the company’s automated machine. Joe suffers from panic attacks and Emily soothes and helps him through it. Throughout the movie you begin to see how much Joe needs and depends on Emily. Joe’s issues begins to affect Emily’s work with her theater company, which she is very passionate about. One night Joe calls Emily during one of his panic attacks but she doesn’t answer the phone. After several attempts and hacking into Emily’s phone, Joe finally gives up hope and calls the automated Emily which helps him through it in the same way his wife Emily does.

The relationship between Joe and automated Emily begins to turn into something more than a relationship between a programmer and a program. The audience first sees Joe’s obsession with automated Emily when he initiates a sexual relationship with the program. Joe begins to obsessively call and text automated Emily. While his relationship with the automated program grows, his relationship with his wife weakens. After Joe goes to see one of wife Emily’s plays, he notices that she uses their relationship in one of her pieces. She uses the relationship as a way to show her real self and relate more to the audience. Emily and Joe get into an argument when they get home and Joe accuses wife Emily of being jealous of automated Emily. The film presents Joe in a way where some people may like and understand him and others will strongly dislike him and find him overly needy. Throughout the movie Joe seems to keep wife Emily around for the sole purpose that he needs her. This is presented during the argument after the play when Emily asks Joe if he loves her. Joe does not answer the question but instead says that he needs her. After wife Emily leaves, Joe spirals out of control. He is listed as an abusive caller and fails to go to work. During Joe’s breakdown he realizes that he replaced his wife with an automated machine and works to get the real Emily back.

Neffertia Tyner, Multiliteracies Center Coach