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  • Writer's pictureBruce Klein

The Assistant: You Won The Job Now Deal With It

Now that you’re sitting down in your office, you know you’re in a highly-prized position. You are the assistant at a very successful movie production company. Every morning you get up before dawn and when the sun rises you are at the office. Your goal is to be a producer and your internship means you’re on your way. But you are experiencing life at the bottom rung of the latter. Most of what you do seems to have little in common with producing movies. You have been there for less than two months but it feels like a lifetime.

No one is paying attention to you unless you make a mistake. The size of the mistake is determined by the big boss, the man who runs the company. He is frightening and fierce. He has no bounds. To get ahead you must please him. You find there is no clear path in the movie business. You want to do everything to advance, but you are thrown into a firm that is so different from college that getting ahead is like grabbing the brass ring on the carrousel. You may grab one but not go anywhere. You’re become trapped and may never get free.

The Assistant centers on Jane (Julia Gardner) and takes place over one work day. There is non-stop tension between Jane and her co-workers. The big boss, who we never see on screen, is menacing and micromanages the employees. Jane is constantly on the hook and under surveillance. The office spaces are all small and cramped. Jane overhears much as do the others. The furniture is generic, except in the bosses’ office. Jane is expected to do anything she is asked with full cooperation without any gripes or any hostility. She feels she must succeed at this coveted opportunity.

There is no glamor and no perks just unending demands. She gets no guidance. If she learns anything about the business, it is only from careful observation. Her hunches about the boss liberties with women prove true. Others know about his behavior but they consider it business as usual. To them, it is just the dirt on the bottom of the boss’s shoes.

The production values of the movie are low. It looks and feels like a TV documentary. But the acting makes it work. Jennifer Gardner is totally in the moment. You feel that she has no other life that the one she portrays. Matthew MacFaden, the actor playing Wilcox, the boss’ shrewd right hand, puts in a spot on performance. He fits exactly in place in this terrifying tale of pain, isolation and fear. This movie shows suffering to win a place as a movie producer an extremely competitive occupation. It’s disturbing to see Jane imprisoned and constantly discriminated against.

This movie is only for adults and not for young movie business hopefuls. They don’t have the power to see beyond their dreams and are not able to temper or refocus their ambitions. Get ready for a real downer movie although well done.


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