Review: The Assistant (2020)

Director/Screenwriter: Kitty Green
Starring: Julia Garner, Matthew Macfadyen, Dagmara Dominczyk, Bregje Heinen, Alexander Chaplin
Genre: Drama
MPAA Rating: Rated R for some language
Release Dates: 1/31/20 (UK), 4/28/20 (Streaming)
Runtime: 87 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
Where to Watch: Hulu
Oscar Nomination(s): Long-Shot–Actress (Garner), Original Screenplay

I was interested in watching The Assistant, because it seemed like the type of post-Weinstein/#metoo era film that would be relevant today. Unfortunately, it’s too slight and not daring enough to make a real impact. I certainly appreciate what it’s trying to do, in depicting how young women working in the entertainment industry (especially at the lower rungs) in particular, are taken advantage of, and not merely through sexual assault/abuse (which is prevalent). But, I never felt the tension that writer-director Kitty Green’s film intends to convey, and I was rather bored throughout.

Julia Garner is very strong and convincing in the main role, but I feel like she only gets the chance to really shine in one scene opposite Succession‘s Matthew Macfadyen, who does his best with a stereotypical character, although it is important for us to see how Garner’s character’s concerns would essentially go ignored.  I’ve heard that what her assistant character experiences — in the course of one long day — is fairly accurate, but it’s never interesting. The Assistant is the kind of movie that I will soon forget about, not because the issues at its center aren’t important, but because they aren’t present in a unique, smart way.