In theatres from writer/director Kitty Green and Bleeker Street comes a story of the grind and secrets of being nothing more than THE ASSISTANT.
Jane (Julia Garner) is a young graduate who finds a position as an assistant in a film company. Daily her life is a series of motions from the darkness of morning until the darkness of night. Doing everything that is asked of her, Jane continually finds herself on the edge as the other assistants try to throw her a lifeline.
Her biggest problem is noticing the little things that go on in the office including the behaviors of the executives regarding women. Keeping her head down and taking on some of the more disgusting tasks, Jane takes the initiative to speak to Wilcock (Matthew Macfadyen) in HR about what is happening. Almost immediately she is belittled and all but told to do her job and mind her place.
When another young woman is brought into the office, Jane doesn’t need anyone to tell her that she isn’t there for the same reasons Jane is. That’s when she must decide if this is the life she wants for a career producing or is it time to walk away.
This is not the Hollywood she thought.
Garner as Jane is a mild young woman who sees her future in the torment of her job. Coming in early mornings and going home late with the madness in between is the only way she sees moving forward. This actress gives it all she has and yet her face manages to present itself in such a way as to not show any emotion to her credit. I couldn’t have done the role because I’d be screaming to much!
Macfadyen as Wilcock (aptly named if you ask me) is nothing short of every woman’s nightmare in that he patiently listens to Jane, repeats back to her what she says and then managed to shred every concern she has without ever raising his voice. The whole time this character has a look of someone you’d trust while sharpening his claws under the desk where you can’t see it coming.
The other roles are small to be sure but powerful nonetheless as it points to everyone knowing a thing but pretending it doesn’t matter in the everyone-for-themselves mentality.
Other cast include Makenzie Leigh as Ruby, Kristine Froseth as Sienna, Juliana Canfield as Sasha, Alexander Chaplin as Max, Dagmara Dominczyk as Elle, Lou Martini Jr. as John and Liz Wisan as Edwina.
THE ASSISTANT reminds me of the film SWIMMING WITH SHARKS but a woman. The cut-throat, turning away of the business brings out the shady attitude of everyone concerned. Even Jane’s co-workers are all about the apology emails and letting the boss know ‘it will never happen again’.
I have to admit that I was disgusted that she had to even write the e-mails, but I think the scene in the office with her scrubbing the furniture was my breaking point. We all, whether we admit it or not, have done things in our jobs that no one would believe but in Jane’s case it is all much to much which is the purpose of the film. Bringing out such a reaction from me is saying something as I found myself talking to the screen and Jane a lot during the film.
The film doesn’t hide behind the glitz and glamor of Hollywood but instead portrays the raw underbelly of secrets and deceptions and those who pay. I watched this character follow her dreams only to discover that it’s a nightmare to get there.
THE ASSISTANT won the Truly Moving Picture Award from Heartland Film this year for writer/director Green and Bleecker Street Media. It was also nominated for Best Film by the Panorama Audience Award at the Berlin International Film Festival.
In the end – its what is not said that says everything!