The Assistant is a faithful portrayal of workplace harassment. Drawing from her experience as a documentarian (Ukraine Is Not a Brothel), writer/director Kitty Green brings layers of realism which she channels well through her actors. I think Green’s vision is admirable, but I completely understand if audiences feel disregarded watching the movie.
We watch Jane (Julia Garner) endure a very long day at the office, tending to the needs of an experienced movie producer. She’s in charge of delivering paperwork and taking various requests, but she’s also dismissed by condescending colleagues and scolded by her boss. The audience learns that her career goal to be a film producer is what convinces her to mull through the brunt of her job. A flow of ignorance runs throughout the office politics though, as it’s hinted that terrible things are going on behind closed doors.
Partly inspired by the movement that sank disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, Kitty Green does a good job emulating lingering toxicity in the workplace. She has an impressive sense for environmental factors within the work setting, but Green truly shines with her portrayal of the stifling qualities that fill targeted people with dread. This is also a testament to how the filmmaker firmly directs her actors to find an overall consistent level of apathy towards Garner, a solid performer capable of finding significance through silent reflections.
But although the film’s depiction of psychological cruelty is authentic, I can’t help but feel Kitty Green is missing opportunities to expose this issue further. The narrative falls within the trappings of the single-day timeline; giving audiences a discombobulated comprehension of how much time has passed, but also providing vague characterizations. Despite the film holding timely weight, the conflict shouldn’t solely define the characters or the reality they’re living in.
The Assistant is good but because of it doesn’t have a necessary push in its narrative, the film feels more like some sort of observer’s simulator rather than a feature film.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie