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New Ways of Seeing: The Assistant

From Amy Dotson, NWFC Director and PAM Curator, Film & New Media
The Assistant
Director: dir. Kitty Green, United States
Available on Amazon Prime

Kitty Green’s razor-sharp and all-too-true account of a day in the life of a new assistant to a powerful movie executive is once threatening, tense, and at times terrifying. But this is no ordinary horror movie. It is one that unfolds with laser focus showing the long hours, the tiptoeing, apologizing, kowtowing, to an unseen monster of a boss…and the slow reckoning that things are not at all what they seem.

With a powerhouse performance by Julia Garner who is in almost every scene, the film is unusual in its deep dive into the seemingly mundane, everyday tasks she’s enduring all the while trying to trust her gut, look deeper, and understand what the hell is going on in this toxic, muted environment. All comes to a head as Jane tries to explain to human resources what she has witnessed in a scene that is at once horrifying and all too true. How do I know? I got my start as an assistant at Miramax in the early 2000s. Parts of this could have been my story. And sadly, I know it is the story of far too many colleagues too. Researched over a year developing the character from an amalgam of past and present Miramax assistants (including me), Green’s unconventional approach to the narrative means any or all of us as viewers can take a walk in Jane’s shoes, to hopefully take collective steps towards ensuring that this kind of depravity never, ever happens again.

The Assistant
Director: dir. Kitty Green
United States, 2020, 87 mins, Drama