A searing look at a day in the life of an assistant to a powerful executive. As Jane follows her daily routine, she grows increasingly aware of the insidious abuse that threatens every aspect of her position.
‘The Assistant’ is a quietly sinister piece of work, which achieves its power through how ordinary its story is played out. Directed by Kitty Green, the film takes cues from her experiences as a new recruit at a film production company, depicting a working environment that is very tough to get into, but easy to get out off if you don’t toe the line. Julia Garner stars in the leading role as Jane, a recent graduate who has landed a job as a junior assistant to a powerful entertainment executive. With ambitions of becoming a film producer, she is willing to accept the challenges of starting at the bottom, at least up until a point.
She’s first in the door in the morning and last out in the evening, and her experiences will be recognisable to many people who’ve tried to get a start in a demanding business. The way she is treated alone is enough to demand your ire, but the film takes things up a level by subtly introducing an element of workplace harassment that Jane becomes aware off. ‘The Assistant’ is not a showy movie by any stretch and for the most part it adheres religiously to the ‘show not tell’ approach, until it’s finest scene when Jane plucks up the courage to raise her concerns to someone senior (played superbly by Matthew Macfadyen). Her concerns are quietly dismissed and the consequences of taking things further are made clear, with this conversation outlining exactly how toxic working cultures are allowed to operate and thrive. There’s bravery in speaking up, but if no one wants to hear then what is the point? This is the very timely dilemma that Jane faces at the heart of this film.
‘The Assistant’ is a nuanced, understated piece of work that depicts with a deflating sense of realism how systemic abuse is fostered and allowed to operate unchecked within organisations. The touchpoints for this work will not be hard to guess, but perhaps it’s most concerning takeaway is how quickly we start to normalise inappropriate behaviour and how easy it is to turn the other cheek.
Directed By: Kitty Green
Starring: Julia Garner, Matthew Macfadyen, Kristine Froseth, Makenzie Leigh, Noah Robbins, Jon Orsini and Dagmara Dominczyk