THE ASSISTANT – Review by Susan Granger

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Made all-the-more timely given the verdict in the sexual misconduct trial of disgraced Miramax mogul Harvey Weinstein, Kitty Green’s workplace drama profiles how power enforces silence about sexual coercion and harassment.

Unfolding over one, long exploitative workday, it focuses on Jane (Julia Garner), who is beginning her second month as a lowly assistant to an unseen/anonymous Manhattan-based movie producer.

When it’s still dark outside, Jane dutifully leaves her apartment in Queens, becoming the first to arrive at the company’s Tribeca office. She quietly prepares the morning coffee, lines up the individual water bottles and cleans stains off the cushions on the couch.

Since her boss is scheduled to fly to Los Angeles at 11 p.m. with two additional passengers, Jane must confirm that, along with his reservation at the Peninsula, field phone calls from his suspicious wife and usher a beautiful blonde in for a meeting.

Hours pass. Jane returns the gold bracelet that an Asian woman inadvertently left in the boss’s office. Ambitious male assistants (Jon Orsini, Noah Robbins) come and go, each having been assured that compliance will assure advancement.

Eventually, distressed Jane realizes exactly how her lascivious boss is manipulating and abusing aspiring actresses, ingénues who naively believe that their acquiescence will somehow propel them to film stardom – like the young waitress he flew in from Idaho and ensconced in a hotel.

But who can Jane tell? Who will care? And will there ever be any consequences to her boss’s predatory behavior?

When Jane timidly approaches a Human Resources representative (Matthew Macfadyen) to report what she’s seen and heard, the tension is palpable. His reaction is to laughingly assure her: “You’re not his type.”

“Almost everything that’s in the movie has been recorded already in the news,” Australian writer/director Kitty Green acknowledges. “But what I wanted was some kind of emotional insight.”

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Assistant” is a restrained, sensitive 6, chronicling an all-too-prevalent misogynistic culture of complicity.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Assistant is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for January 31, 2020

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.