The Assistant
Bleeker Street and 3311 Productions
Reviewed by: Tami Smith, Film Reviewer for Shockya
Grade: B+
Director: Kitty Green
Screenwriter: Kitty Green
Cast: Julia Garner, Matthew MacFadyen, Jon Orsini, Noah Robbins, Kristine Froseth
Release Date: January 31st, 2020

On the surface it looks like Jane (Julia Garner) is having a routine and dull day at the office. She rises before dawn using a company car that will take her from Astoria, Queens to Tribeca, Lower Manhattan, where she works at a film production company. This ambitious recent Northwestern University graduate is determined to become a film producer, so no job is too small or demeaning for her. As a junior assistant to The Boss (voice of Jay O. Sanders), we watch her, tiding the office, making coffee, delivering food to a duo of junior male executives (Jon Orsini and Noah Robbins), making travel arrangements, taking phone messages and dealing with The Wife (voice of Stephanye Dussud) who is trying to reach The Boss without success. The work is tedious but Jane does not fail to notice the large supply of medications arriving for The Boss, the attractive female candidates parading around, allegedly auditioning for film roles or new administrative job openings, the gold earring on the carpet and the exclusive hotel room provided for a newly hired assistant.

After going to the Human Resources department to file a complaint about The Boss, who is heard but not seen, Jane encounters a “concerned” executive, Wilcox (Matthew MacFadyen), who softly assures her that she is stressed out and has nothing to fear from The Boss because she is “not his type”. Needless to say Jane will not become a producer by working long hours as an office assistant, and her job has an expiration date of thirty years of age or less.

Director and screenwriter Kitty Green got the subject of workplace harassment spot-on by portraying the young, the vulnerable and the enabling office staff, all surrounding the Boss.

Julia Garner plays Jane to perfection, as a woman who receives orders and reacts to her surroundings. Her hair is scooped up in functional style, and her choice of clothing indicates a young person wanting to blend into the scenery and not cause any trouble.

Matthew MacFadyen shows us Wilcox as a Human Resources executive who is an enabler. There is no doubt that he has received many complaints during his years with the company. When Jane says: So “What are you going to do about it” he replies: “About what?”, while telling her that four-hundred candidates from top universities are clamoring for her job.

Jon Orsini and Noah Robbins, as the two male assistants, give the film a comic relief while not hiding their contempt to the female sex, nor are they shy about telling Jane how to write apologetic E-Mails to The Boss. Kristine Froseth gives a good supporting performance as the new assistant Sienna, a naïve waitress from Boise, Idaho who was hired to “work the phones”, and had been placed in an upscale hotel by her employer who pays her daily afternoon visits!

Director of Photography Michael Latham gives the film a proper blue/grey humming neon quality, which is so often found in New York City’s offices. Filming was done in New York City.

87 minutes Not Rated © Tami Smith, Film Reviewer

Story: B+
Acting: A-
Technical: B
Overall: B+

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