I didn’t know much about this film until mid last week. I ended up attending the show with a Q and A after the movie with writer and director, Kitty Green. Here is a filmmaker who I don’t really know anything about but I was already a fan of Julia Garner. I really liked her on The Americans and knew she was going to blow up soon. She is fantastic in this minimalist performance about a timely and important issue that is ever present in modern times.
The film shows the entire day of work of an assistant at an office of a powerful film executive. During her time there, she sees conspicuous activities and young females being brought into the office and given roles after they meet with her boss even during late hours. She starts to realize what is going on and the predatory behavior involved but must deal with being silenced and has to weigh up how important her job is to her. Julia Garner plays Jane, in her most fulfilled role to date.
From the opening frame of the film this is a beautiful visual experience. The film is quiet at times as you watch Jane take care of daily activities in the office. You can put the clues together to find out what is going on in the office and how the women are being sexually exploited. The film never mentions it but this film was definitely inspired by the story of Harvey Weinstein. The breathy voice on the phone calls also is reminiscent of Weinstein. This film is so competently shot throughout the office.
The way Garner emotes through her facial expressions truly tell the story of her internal struggle. The issue is timely and unfortunately something that occurs today. She has to be silenced because there are people that are more powerful than her who disregard her when she comes forward to speak up. This film kind of shows scenarios as to why it might be difficult for people to come forward when they witness something immoral. Garner is fantastic in this film. The Assistant is a fairly succinct film but immensely powerful in its depictions and is definitely one that has talking points.