Operator ★★★★

Tuned in for Mae Whitman, got Martin Starr from Silicon Valley as a bonus. And they carried this movie together marvelously. Maybe you read the synopsis and thought that this was about the man objectifying his wife in a literal way. And that is one aspect of it. But, more generally, his story is about a programmer who defensively retreats into his work to avoid change around him, and how that leads him to be a toxic influence on people in his life. He's obsessed with his routines and his project to the point where he is dismissive of others and neglects them as the predictable, deterministic entities that he aspires to be to protect himself.

Elevating this movie, Whitman's character offers the movie a wonderful B-side story about a woman's rebirth. She develops from being a slave to a toxic job that forces her to put on an artifice on her professional life and a needy husband who imposes an artifice on her personal life, to someone who learns to express her own self through writing and theatre. Every minute we spend exploring her fall and rise is as interesting as watching Starr's more overarching fall.

This is also a movie that takes its tech centerpiece seriously and doesn't stray insultingly far from reality. It uses it as much more than set dressing: the artificial nature of the assistant is viscerally relevant to the man obsessed with artifice and his wife escaping artifice. And, as we spend necessary exposition time watching the project come together, there's hints of satire about how large software projects in there that make moments we're not spending on Whitman or Starr feel well-spent.