The Reel Review

B

Julia Garner (Ozark) stars in this day-in-the-life drama on both Hulu and Amazon about an executive assistant to a movie studio mogul whose dream job has evolved a soul-crushing nightmare as she has discovered her boss is a sexual predator preying on ambitious young women – a story clearly modeled after the Harvey Weinstein #metoo scandal.

Julia Garner in The Assistant.

Viewers expecting a thrilling, plot-driven story from writer/director Kitty Green with Garner channeling her foul-mouthed character Ruth from Ozark are going to be very disappointed. What Green has crafted is a tedious, gut-wrenching character portrait of an emotionally beat down, aspiring producer working in a high pressure, toxic, office environment – an experience that unfortunately rings true for too many woman who have endured such indignities and bullying in order to get ahead at work. Green’s ability to capture subtle but significant micro-aggressions is impressive.

Garner is masterful as Jane, the beleaguered assistant who works long hours, sacrifices her personal life and endures one demeaning task after another for her boss, whom we never see. Matthew Macfadyen (Succession) is stomach-churningly good as the slimy, gaslighting HR representative. The biggest complaint with this film is that it is unpleasant to watch and contains painfully slow pacing with no real payoff in the end, but it also can be argued that the lack of payoff creates a haunting vibe that leaves its mark long after the credits roll.

REEL FACTS

• Documentarian Kitty Green (Casting Jon Benet) got the idea for this film from interviewing female executive assistants in multiple industries – film, tech, finance and engineering – to explore how mundane duties relegated only to the female assistants undermine their self worth. And yes, that included assistants at Weinstein’s former film company, Miramax.

Julia Garner and The Assistant writer/director Kitty Green

• Julia Garner says she met Harvey Weinstein once in Cannes, where he was surrounded by a group of pretty girls. She says the problem with sexual predators in the workplace isn’t just the predators but also the people surrounding them that allow them to get away with it.

• Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring) has a cameo role, as a big name movie star who the assistant comes across in an elevator while at work but dares not engage.

 

 

 

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