IMDb Rating: 6/10
R | 1h 27min | Drama | 01 May 2020 (UK) | Movie
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 91% Certified Fresh (Critic Reviews) | 25% Rotten (Audience)
Director: Kitty Green
Writers: Kitty Green
Stars: Julia Garner, Owen Holland, Jon Orsini
IMDb summary: 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.
One of the most remarkable things about this film is that you never really see the “bad guy”, the physical representation of the “powerful executive” is never there, but you can feel his presence everywhere. The other important thing of note in this film is that the “bad guy” isn’t the antagonist in the traditional sense. It is the immoral way in which people (mostly women), are treated throughout the film.
For some viewers, this film might come across as boring and bland. And I can see why some may think that. It is a slowly paced film, and there is no action. People who are used to watching movies with a lot of moving parts may find the transition to a film that is filmed almost entirely in one space uninteresting. But therein lies the beauty of what this film has achieved. Your only focus is the lead actress “Jane” played wonderfully by Julia Garner. And her name feels almost alien because she is never addressed by her name in the film. Again, this is purposeful. Jane is not a person, she is an object and should be treated as such.
What happens to a person when they feel they are being attacked from every angle? This is Jane’s existence. Not only is she undermined by her colleagues, they treat her like dirt, in particular her powerful boss who abuses her regularly. And when she does something about it, she is treated with even more disdain and guilt-shamed into feeling she is in the wrong. Even though this is a movie with fictional characters, it speaks volumes about how the abuse of power is ignored until it becomes “just another day in the office”. The complacency of the situation is offensive.
The Assistant is a relevant and engaging piece of work. Julia Garner’s portrayal of Jane is impeccable. Try to approach this movie with no preconceptions and your experience will be all the better for it.