If the Roger Ailes condemnation film Bombshell was a bombastic, hard-hitting strike to the Weinsteins of the world, then The Assistant is the fresher, more intricate take.
Following a day in the life of a young, pretty unpaid assistant to a high-powered studio executive, the implicit is just as — maybe more — important than the things that explicitly happen to the people in the film.
As Jane wakes up in the pre-dawn hours and heads to the office, she finds herself spraying and cleaning her boss’s office couch once again. When she finds an earring underneath it, she’s neither surprised or outwardly upset. This is just life for those who work for him.
The executive, seen in shadows, is a mirror for the men that women who went through the #MeToo movement have worked for: His presence is always felt, even if his face isn’t seen. He’s a constant source of anxiety for both Jane and the two other assistants who work for him.
His exploits are a joke to higher-level executives, and even his other assistants — both men — are subserviant and help Jane craft the too-often apology emails to their boss, a show of his power even when he’s out of the building.
By making this simple, including cutting out most dialogue and letting every wince, every look and every tense moment speak for itself, writer and director Kitty Green creates one of the most difficult, evocative films of the year.
Emmy-winner Julia Garner, who is the scene-stealing Ruth in Ozark, gives a flawless performance. She is absolutely, completely perfect here, and she anchors this film perfectly.
The Assistant is the most disquieting, unnerving film of the year, and the result is incredible.