The Assistant is one of the year’s best and now that cinemas are starting to reopen you should make sure to put it on your must-watch list. It’s a riveting look at a personal assistant to a powerful film executive (think Harvey Weinstein) as she becomes aware of the systemic abuse that permeates this industry.
What is most unnerving about this film is its restraint. It isn’t making a big speech about the Me Too movement but instead lets the lack of context, the micro-aggressions of the office space and misogynistic subtleties draw attention to the painful reality of an industry that supports this abuse of power. There is no clear antagonist, only an executive that could take the form of anyone, not just Harvey Weinstein. In this restraint, it marks the most damning indictment of this abuse that far surpasses films as Bombshell that also seeks to explore the systemic abuse that can be found in an office space.
Julia Garner as The Assistant delivers a performance of astounding complexity in a series of darting glances and nail bites that genuinely deserves the phrase ‘Awards Worthy’. Matthew Macfadyen also delivers a frightening performance as the HR rep in the crux of the film which may leave some asking “Is this it?”. However, Macfadyen’s condescending manner, his smugness in knowing that to break this chain of abuse takes more than she has, it makes for an engaging Hannibal-like villain figure in his brief screen time.