The Operator (1999)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 1/22/02
Produced, Directed, And Written By: Jon Dichter
Cast: Michael Laurence, Christa Miller, Jacqueline Kim, Brion James

A morality fable of karmic retribution and redemption. Gary Wheelan (Michael Laurence) is not a very nice person. For starters, he's a lawyer. On top of that, he gambles and constantly cheats on his beautiful and loving wife (lovely Christa Miller). He's got everything he ever wanted, but is still fueled by reckless desire and is on the road to self destruction. His life gets turned around one day when he completely blows his stack and offends a telephone operator (delicious Jacqueline Kim), and she decides to ruin his life. Almost instantly, his savings disappear, his credit is no good, his wife learns of his adulterous ways and kicks him out of his house, his car gets repossessed, and his bookie wants him dead. And then things get worse. Eventually, Gary completely falls apart and tries to turn his life around. Karma must be served, but will he survive long enough to redeem himself?

I was actually invited to a private screening of this film as an "industry professional" in the Seattle film community, which I find extremely amusing since I'm only a failed filmmaker wannabe and a second-rate software engineer. Regardless, it was a free movie and it might have opened some doors for me. As a low budget indie film, I was extremely impressed by the quality of the movie. The writing is very tight and the acting is very good. Michael Laurence gives an excellent performance as the sleazy lawyer, and his breakdown is genuinely moving and heart-felt. Jacqueline Kim as the femme fatale known only to Gary as Shiva, The Destroyer is wonderful, even though we never really get to see her. It's only through her voice and vague shadowy imagery that we experience her character, which is a very nice and tantalizing touch. Definitely a film worth checking out if you like character driven dramatic thrillers.