Likely to be somewhat overshadowed by the break-out smash-hit of this year’s Promising Young Women, writer/director Kitty Green’s dark drama is a much more restrained treatment of the issues involved in the MeToo movement. This is a story of casual, everyday sexism, perpetrated by men who have little idea what their offence is. The victim is a young, aspiring film-maker whose sex seems to bar her from the boys club of a New York office. While lacking the punch and pizazz of the Carey Mulligan/Margot Robbie collaboration, it’s an effectively dank film that hits its target square on.
Fresh from her stint at the Blue Cat Café in Netflix thriller Ozark, Julia Garner plays Jane, a promising young woman who has managed to get through a couple of internships and snare a secretarial role in the Manhattan office of a film production company. Films about film-making are notoriously skewwhiff but The Assistant really nails down exactly what kind of culture war Jane finds herself unwillingly signed up for. The men around her use Jane to sort out domestic issues, they complain to her when their sandwich has turkey rather than chicken, and she’s constantly having to draft letters of apology for matters beyond her control. So far, and so unfair.
But it’s Jane’s suspicions about her boss that raise the chilly temperature of Green’s film. Earrings found on the floor, a new assistant with no film experience brought in on a whim; Jane realises that she’s on a sticky wicket and attempts to raise a complaint with the firm’s HR. This doesn’t go well, and Jane soon finds herself wet-nurse, slave and captive of the adolescent men she’s supposed to be helping; her ambitions and her family recede into the background.
If Promising Young Woman explodes into storm of plot-points and surprises, The Assistant takes a far less entertaining route, scrupulously observing the thousand tiny slights that Jane observes and endures every day. Garner is completely believable in the role, and as noted above, the grubby microwaves, professional loneliness and other pitfalls of industry work are well observed. Unfortunately, The Assistant will preach largely to the converted by refusing to heat the mix up to boiling point, but it’s a quiet, restrained condemnation of the kind of male behaviour which still provides a huge hurdle to any notions of workplace equality.
Thanks to Vertigo for screener access to this title.
I loved, LOVED this film. Julia Garner is utterly mesmerizing. So glad you featured it on your site, because it deserves to be more well known.
I think it totally succeeds on its own terms; too restricted and uncontrived for mass audiences, but never puts a four wrongin depicting male d’éminence in film workplaces. And Garner is great in this role, a real switch from Ozark.
I second Garner as a great actor and Ozark turned me into a fan, although I haven’t even HEARD OF THIS FILM. That instantly makes it not worth watching.
What? You like Garner and you WON’T watch this film?
Okay, I take it back. It honestly was just a rude, snide remark towards those people that always respond with “I’ve never heard of that” when you tell them about something new. Yes, I’m talking about you. 😝
Pretty sure it was the devil in the detail, and not a ‘diety’ at all, though he might need to lose a few pounds I suppose.
I think it’s both !
This looks very interesting indeed. God is in the detail, so they say, though that would make him a very busy bloke. Sounds like a winner from Garner, too.
I really think that Garner has got it, and playing a very different role from her Ozark one will do her no end of good. Not sure that the diety involved is identified as a man in 2021…
When I saw the picture, at first I thought it was Emma Watson and was all set to make a GREAT Harry Potter joke. Then you had to go and ruin it by naming her another actress!
Who do I complain to about this mix up!?!?
What would your joke have been? All complaints via Alex in our Canadian office…
I actually didn’t have one made up yet. I was kind of hoping you wouldn’t ask 😀 😀 😀
Haha! Outsmarted again! Bluffer! All mouth and no trousers! All fur coat and no knickers!
I better NOT be wearing knickers! You and your temples of filthy ideas, I’m shocked….
Well, it’s been one failure after another for you this morning. Maybe you need an assistant….
I don’t need to steenkeen assistant, specially if she can’t even get me the right cereal!
Can you translate this from critter language? You mean ‘no’ not ‘to’ right? A critter could do better…
Not if it’s too busy trying no eat my cereal!
Can’t trust a critter.
That’s what I’ve been trying to say this whole time!
I’m glad you can finally agree with me….
I’m reporting you for anti critter sentiment. Trial starts Monday. Sad!
Self defense! I’m using the Stand My Ground laws. Seagal will fully back me up too.
You stand contaminated with your own filthy mouth! Justice for critters!
Hold on, some scandal re Alex and fraggle alert!
You forgot to insert the trumpet noises….
Cannot wait to see what happens here!
HE’S IN FRANCE!!!
The critters are in France?
Alex!! We’ve been through this already, please remember in future.
Is it MY job to keep track of Alex?
Wait, what am I doing in France? I’ve never been in France. Comment suis-je arrivé ici?
I was wondering that. Alex, you’ve seen sending pics of Paul Rudd to fraggle and pretending that you live in France! Shameful!
attends une minute! Tu nous as dit! I will have to search back through the blogs to find it.
They speak French in Canada, right?
Peut-être. But they can speak French anywhere, as can I being a multi-global person, but Alex eats Theory for breakfast IN FRANCE!!! What more proof do you need!!
But Alex himself says he does not live in France. What is the truth? We want the truth!
I am thinking he is under-cover in France (and I’ve just blown it) and Canada is a feint. Oops.
I think we’ll look for the Critters reboot tomorrow and just find 404 not found. How much money did he ask you to send him?
That would be ungentlemanly to ask and unladylike to answer.
I’m passing this case to the Feds. Don’t worry, we’ll get your money back, but your dignity….
My dignity is intact thanks, as is my bank account. I am sending Alex some Theory bars to keep him going.
I’m so sorry that this scoundrel was lying to you about his country of residence and his appearance. I knew that a Paul Rudd lookalike living in France was unlikely, but I’ll make no further comment until our investigation is complete. You must be heartbroken, life can be cruel! And you cancelled your film reviews too!
Heart intact. Faith in French Alex intact. He’ll be holed up somewhere in the Alps.
So sorry that this happened. You’ve been taken to the cleaners by this cad.
Oh ye of little faith!
For a rascal like that to prey on elderly dowagers like yourself, there’s no excusing it!
Balderdash!! So rude! Red card offence!!
It was, and that’s why Alex is in trouble! he’ll be spoken to, don’t you worry! In your declining years as well…
I think you have me mistaken for someone else. I’m not declining, Alex is fine and French, Booky is omnipotent, whereas you sir, are a trouble making Beakmeister! I suggest you put your wee head in a bucket and cogitate on your failings.
I really respect your efforts to hold things together as your world falls apart. Alex is still trying to cadge money off me, but I think he knows his cover is blown now. Shameful the way he misled you; with pics of Paul Rudd too! So sad and cruel, we’ll have a whip round for you.
You are deluded. Sad.
Not me that thought I was pen pals with a Paul Rudd lookalike in France…
correct your spelling and syntax and I’ll take this comment seriously.
That it? Look, you can’t blame Booky and me for trying to protect aging dowagers from cads like Alex? We’re doing society a favour!
Alex is a disgrace. Don’t let him talk his way back from this…
Only in the Un-American parts of Canada though…
He’s probably gone to work to earn his crust for the day. Unlike certain other people who we won’t mention….
Snow Day for you?
Frozen rain and ice day 🙁
Fair enough. I knew Alex was cat-fishing fraggle, sending her pics of Paul Rudd and pretendingt that was him, and claiming to live in France too! He’ll get the jail for that….
Yep, those french are pretty handy with their guilloteens…
Can’t believe he got exposed like that, he’ll be heading for the border now with his Lep DVD in his rucksack…
I wouldn’t worry. All that canadian bacon will weigh him down and allow Seagal to catch him, easy peasy….
I’m contacting the authorities.
I’m pretty sure Capt Crunch is off duty this morning.
He’s so busted., Talking about going down in flames.
Shocking that an aging dowager like Fraggle should be so humiliated by a scoundrel like Alex, the internet is a terrible place, it really is.
That is why you can’t trust anybody, ever. or put up your real name or picture or occupation.
Except for me of course. Being God Emperor of Mars has it’s perks.
Such a shame. It’s not like Fraggle’s pic was accurate either, so who’s zooming who?
Wait, wut? What do you mean that wasn’t fraggle’s pix? Wasn’t she in that movie?
EYES WIDE OPEN! This is the new reality!
And here I thought Mr Fraggle was a rabbit this whole time.
My world has just been shaken to its foundation!
It’s been a day of revelations. As if we had new writers on the soap opera of life. At least our reputations are unstained by this whole sordid affair.
Exactly. We are True Statesmen of the World. Honored and Beloved by all….
Hooray for us! We save the world!
They should make a movie about us. Got any ideas for a screen play?
What happened this morning would be more dramatic than most films, What a fall from grace for Alex! This morning, Fraggle thought he was a moustachioed stud living by the Seine….just as well we stepped in!
Maybe we could turn into a 5 season soap oprah, really milk it for all it’s worth.
I’m doing my best to keep tempers at fraying point…
I’ve noticed that. You really like to stir the pot.
I’m assuming it’s good arm exercise?
A good arm exercise would be panning in your windows, pal, but for now, I think we should try and calm tensions by spraying the fire with propane…
Or rocket fuel….
Ok, I think we’ve really covered The Assistant in phorensic detail. I declare this discussion complete and yield the rest of my time to the gentleman from Paris.
I just go to put the garbage out and look at all that blows up.
Just because I said I eat French literary theory with my continental breakfast! And I do like a baguette at times. And I guess my avatar wears a beret. But je ne parle pas francais! People laugh at me when I try! And now I’m trapped in Paris.
I’m just triangulating the GPS to get a clear read on your location, then it’s red dot time for you, sunshine. Save your excuses for the FEDS.
They don’t have “Feds” in your jurisdiction. They only have bobbies in silly hats. The only way I can get out of Paris, due to travel restrictions, is to wire me an immense amount of money. I will give you details.
Worked on fraggle, won’t work on me, I know that you are not the French Paul Rudd. Can’t imagine how you were every going to pull this off…no money will be sent, your accounts froze, your rep (and lep) in tatters….
You’re supposed to be getting me my bowl of cereal that Seagal was supposed to be guarding and that Ol’10 is trying to steal by having his assistant give me the wrong bowl.
OK here is the incontrovertible truth! On the Miami Nights post by Beaky ……
I read theory while eating quiche. It’s very continental.
I’m on the continent, and I can assure you, no-one reads theory at breakfast. You’re misinformed.
They do things differently in France. Theory is always on the breakfast menu. I’m afraid you’re betraying a certain provinciality.
* bangs gavel *
All Rise for His Honorable Judgeness, God Emperor Judge Bookstooge…
Thank YOU your honorificalness.
😀 😀 😀
Always glad to boast, brag and generally swan about on somebody else’s blog, hahahahaa.
Loved Garner in Ozark, she was the stand out for me, so this is going to be a yep. Hope it has a redeeming ending for her.
Don’t get your hopes up, it’s a man’s world. But Garner was great in Ozark, and this is a good change of pace for her. Thanks for the YEP!
Well, there is a huge difference between a turkey and a chicken sandwich. Though I don’t know whether the mix-up is Jane’s fault.
Also: do you really mean an “aspirating” filmmaker? I was wondering if that was a typo or reflected something in her performance.
Spell check disaster! Fixed, thanks, although you could make a case for Jane barely being able to breathe.
Any Assistant I’ve ever met in nyc would snap your neck for questioning which sandwich you got. The point is that the men act like babies and organise the office on partisan, sexist lines.
It’s interesting that as people acquire more wealth and power they often become more babyish. At least that’s what I’ve noticed when observing them. It’s like what rich men really want is a mommy to take care of them (feed them, adore them, etc.), and they use their money to achieve that fantasy. Sex actually seems to become less important.
All true.this film isn’t about the most extreme examples, but how insidious it is. Patrick Wilson appears to clarify the connection.