The Assistant (15)
The Assistant (15)
Director: Kitty Green,
Cast: Julia Garner, Matthew MacFadyen, Makenzie Leigh, Kristine Froseth,
Jonny Orsini, Noah Robbins
Run time: 1h27m
Synopsis: Jane, a recent college graduate and aspiring film producer, has just landed her dream job as a junior assistant to a powerful entertainment mogul. Her day is much like any other assistant — making coffee, ordering lunch, arranging travel accommodations and taking phone messages. But as Jane follows her daily routine, she grows increasingly aware of the abuse that insidiously colours every aspect of her workday, an accumulation of degradations against which she decides to take a stand.
For those missing the office in these lockdown days, writer-director Kitty Green [Casting JonBenet (2017), Ukraine Is Not a Brothel (2013); The Face of Ukraine: Casting Oksana Baiul (2015)] brings us a blistering look at a day in the life of Jane. an assistant to a powerful executive. As we follow her in her daily routine, we see her become increasingly aware of the insidious abuse that threatens every aspect of her working life.
The Assistant offers a withering critique of workplace harassment and systemic oppression, with a powerhouse performance from Julia Garner (Ozark, TV (2020)], as Jane,an assistant in a NYC production office. A recent college graduate and aspiring film producer, she has recently landed her dream job as a junior assistant to a powerful entertainment mogul.
Her day is much like any other assistant’s — making coffee, changing the paper in the copy machine, ordering lunch, arranging travel, taking phone messages, supervising a new start.
She shares a small office with two male colleagues (Jonny Orsini and Noah Robbins) who ignore, talk over and ridicule her. Her bullying producer boss is unseen, but his malevolent atmosphere is all pervading.
Things deteriorate further when she realises that he is using his position to take advantage of the young women who come to him looking for a break.
Despite having no concrete proof, she takes action by going to see the company’s HR manager, Wilcock – a delicious affectless cameo from Matthew MacFadyen, reminiscent of his role as Tom in Succession (TV 2018-19)
He tells her to keep her mouth shut if she wants to keep her job – with a vicious final sneer: “I don’t think you have anything to worry about.”
Cinematographer Michael Latham gives the film a noirish, claustrophobic, almost documentary feel.
The Assistant is intense, demanding and rigorous in the way it holds up a mirror to the culture of misogyny and toxic masculinity, exposing dynamics which have gone unchecked for decades. It forces us to confront issues and take a stand on workplace harassment and bullying – apposite for a May Day release.
Streaming now on:
iTunes/ Apple TV, Amazon, Sky Store, Virgin, Google Play, Microsoft, Curzon Home Cinema, BFI Player
Images courtesy VERTIGO