Operator (2016 film)

Last updated
Operator (film).jpg
Directed byLogan Kibens
Written bySharon Greene
Logan Kibens
Produced by
  • Aaron Cruze
  • Logan Kibens
Cinematography Steeven Petitteville
Edited byLogan Kibens
Music bySage Lewis
Distributed by The Orchard
Release dates
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited States

Operator is a 2016 American comedy-drama film directed by Logan Kibens from a screenplay by Sharon Greene and Logan Kibens. It stars Martin Starr as Joe, a programmer and obsessive self-quantifier, and Mae Whitman as Emily, a budding comedy performer, who are a happily married couple until they decide to use one another in their work. Nat Faxon, Cameron Esposito, Retta, and Christine Lahti co-star. The film had its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival on March 12, 2016 and was released by The Orchard on November 8, 2016.



Joe (Martin Starr) is a programmer with a crippling anxiety problem who is unable to deal with uncertainty. At work he is tasked with creating an interactive call center answering machine that can convey empathy. Joe recruits his wife Emily (Mae Whitman) who has the perfect voice for the system. Emily works at the front desk of a swanky hotel during the day and has an uncanny ability to soothe even the most irate guests (at night she performs with a comedy group at the Neo-Futurists). After years of being happily married, the pressures of work, family, and personal growth have strained their relationship. Emily sees this as an opportunity to reinvigorate their marriage and agrees to participate. What begins as a collaboration to strengthen their relationship quickly spirals out of control. Terrified of the uncertainty in their relationship, Joe becomes obsessed with creating the “perfect” version of his wife, becoming detached from the real Emily as he spends sleepless nights programming his automated Emily to fulfill his needs for sex and companionship. While Joe is losing touch with reality, Emily is losing faith in their future together. Joe will have to relinquish control and face the uncertainties of life if he wants to save their marriage.



Operator began filming in Chicago on June 29, 2015. [1]

Release and reception

The film premiered to positive reviews at the South by Southwest festival on March 12, 2016. [2] [3] On May 25, 2016, it was announced that The Orchard had acquired distribution rights to the film. [4] [5]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 100% based on 6 reviews, with an average rating of 7.19/10. [6]

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  1. Metz, Nina (June 28, 2015). "Martin Starr and Mae Whitman to film indie 'Operator' in Chicago". Hartford Courant. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  2. DeFore, John (March 16, 2016). "'Operator': SXSW Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  3. "Operator". sxsw.com. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  4. "The Orchard Secures "Operator"". The Orchard. May 25, 2016. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  5. "The Orchard Acquires SXSW Title 'Operator' For North America & UK". The Orchard. May 25, 2016. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  6. "Operator (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes . Retrieved May 10, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)