Capsule Review: Operator

Written by Jeff Sparks


“Operator” is a 2015 short film written and directed by Caroline Bartleet starring Kate Dickie. In the six-minute film, Dickie plays a 999 fire department phone line operator who takes a call from a woman trapped in a burning house with her son. Bartleet uses a one-sided approach to show the intensity that comes with trying to save lives on a daily basis as a 999 operator. By only showing us Dickie’s perspective the film puts us in a spot where our imagination creates the feelings of fear that the woman in the building must be experiencing and gives off the sense of urgency that Dickie’s character faces. The sound design is a key factor for the presentation of the film. Through the operators’ headset, we hear the noises of fire rumbling, shrieks, and cries from the family along with sirens wailing closer and closer in the background. 

As good as the approach by the director is, this film would not have worked without such a strong performance by Dickie. With ice in her veins, Dickie appears unfazed as she delivers a gripping performance that adds to the stressful nature of the event. Going deep into her emotions for the performance her voice trembles as she tries to remain calm while she listens to the woman fear for her life on the other end of the phone. Her eyes dart across her screen as she scrambles to send help. Kate Dickie showed up to work, totally dialed into a performance that was complemented by some interesting filmmaking from Caroline Bartleet.

Operator Short Film

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