Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The Assistant - Movie Review

The Movie: The Assistant

The Director: Kitty Green

The Cast: Julia Garner, Matthew Macfadyen, Makenzie Leigh, Kristine Froseth, Jon Orsini, Noah Robbins

The Story: 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.

The Review:
From one perspective, nothing really happens over the course of the day that is detailed in this movie, it's just another day, same as any other for the most part. From another perspective, every moment of this movie is filled with toxic behavior, sexism, misogyny, and entitlement all of which is such normalized behavior that most of the characters in the film aren't even aware of what is happening. I feel like it's safe to say that every female who has ever worked a day in their lives has experienced most if not all of what we see play out in the story and this is really the first time it's been put on display in a way that calls out behaviors that really should be unacceptable.

In case you weren't aware, Julia Garner is a fantastic actress and I hate to say that I was not aware of this until watching her in this film. The work she puts in is very thoughtful, very emotional, and really does justice to the material given to her and for me, it will hold up as one of the better performances of the year. No joke, she gets everything out of a very nuanced character arc that is all about the layers of subtext and subterfuge that are in place to keep a status quo that is all about status and superiority.

This is Kitty Green's first narrative feature film as both a director and as a writer and it is painfully obvious that this story comes from a lifetime of personal experience. By no means is this a fun romp through office culture and the day to day stresses of the work environment, it is a difficult and, at times, unsettling experience. This movie is a deliberate and intentional look into the pervasive office mentality that gave birth to the Me Too movement and should be welcomed as an eye opening experience. This story is happening every day on some level whether we want to admit it or not.

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