In THE ASSISTANT, Julia Garner plays Jane, a junior assistant to a wealthy, powerful mogul, a la Harvey Weinstein. It’s just one day in her life, but it is certainly enough to open our eyes as to what these “dream jobs” entail.
Beginning at some ungodly hour, Jane leaves her residence in Queens and uses a rideshare to transport into Manhattan. She arrives at the offices way before anyone else, turning on the lights, cleaning up, washing dishes, making coffee --- all of the menial tasks commensurate with her position.
But as the day wears on, she becomes increasingly aware of the insidious, lecherous behavior of her boss. She attempts to make Wilcock (Matthew Macfadyen) in HR aware of the situation but is rebuffed and told to just do her job and not concern herself. As the long day comes to an end for her, it’s painfully obvious that she nor anyone around her is capable or willing to exact any changes.
Though I applaud director/screenwriter Kitty Green for her ambitious endeavor, THE ASSISTANT doesn’t go far enough in its revelations or exposure. We keep expecting some impactful confrontation, but it never comes.
THE ASSISTANT is supremely quiet and subtle in its exploration of the loathsome practices of Jane’s intimidating boss. It seems she is forever composing apologetic emails to him for some slight she has supposedly committed, but he, of course, never feels obliged to return the sentiments.
Even her own parents are unwilling to acknowledge her plight because they believe she is lucky to have such a job in a company like this. Who cares if she worked all weekend and missed calling her father on his birthday --- as long as she’s gaining experience and doing well. Truly sad.
Garner is very gifted and brings a strong work ethic to this role. Unfortunately, she is hampered by Green’s suffocating
dialogue --- or lack thereof --- and trapped by Jane’s --- and everyone around her --- inactions.
THE ASSISTANT is mind-numbingly slow and ultimately unsatisfying. We don’t see or learn anything new here. Perpetrators like Weinstein require a more in-depth expose --- while their victims deserve justice.
Opinion: Don’t Bother!