The Assistant (2020)

★★★★ | by

Posted on Jan 24, 2021



Jane, a recent college graduate, and aspiring film producer, just landed her dream job as a junior assistant to a powerful entertainment mogul. Her day is much like any other assistant — making coffee, ordering lunch, arranging travel accommodations and taking phone messages. But as Jane follows her daily routine, she grows increasingly aware of the abuse that insidiously colors every aspect of her workday, an accumulation of degradations against which she decides to take a stand.

A film of few words, but the power still seeps through in this moving film about the toxic workplace culture in Hollywood. At a run-time of an hour and a half, the film holds its emotion through the words not spoken.

Immediately after the film, I had definitely questioned Julia Garner’s performance. What seemed like a series of meaningless tasks was in fact giving me a feel of how ordinary her job should be, until it starts to go wrong.

From a filmmaking point of view, its use of one set, obscure actors for supporting cast, gives the audience the focus we need on Garner. Its color palette is that of a dull office, and we can see it mirrored in the set design. With all this in place, I get the feeling the director, Kity Green, wanted us to be so intimidated by the boss character, and it works.

If you are looking for sensationalism and a drama to knock your socks off, this isn’t it. If you are looking for a powerful, honest portrayal of a toxic work environment, then the filmmakers have nailed it. It definitely will have you cringing about returning to work the next day if you have an office job though.

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