The Assistant

The Assistant ★★★★½

“The Assistant” is a movie about corruption, abuse of power, systemic oppression and workplace harassment.

The boss himself is an absent character and might be unseen, but he drifts through every scene creating a very tense and threatening atmosphere. Every conversation is about him. It’s like Hitchcock’s Rebecca’s absence or even the unseen abusive male in the latest The Invisible Man, they are the aura that guides the characters in all their actions, even with their nonappearance.

The minimalism seemed to bother me at first, but it is this film’s greatest potencial and what makes its approach so different from other pictures of the same subject. “The Assistant” shrinks the point of view so much that we dive deep into Jane’s experience, as if the narrative were entirely in first-person. The whole movie takes place in one long day of her exhaustive tasks in the company, when she comes to sense that something might be very wrong with her boss, but everybody protects, ignores or denies what is really going on. We hear fragments of conversations. The atmosphere is filled with subtext, hints and missing pieces that makes everything so obvious and nothing at all at the same time.

We know that Jane is correct. The movie is so minimal that every expression or eye gaze of Julia Garner is meaningful and helps build the tension.

It’s obviously modeled on the Weinstein scandal and the #MeToo movement. Kitty Green makes a discomforting and claustrophobic ambient of work by exploring the tiny moments, the little aggressions, the gestures, looks and behaviors, putting us in the woman’s shoes. We can see the whole spectrum here. The problem is so cultural and structural!

I was expecting something like a big plot twist by the end, but this is much more powerful. I will be thinking about it for a while. Great film!