“The Assistant”: both Drama and Thriller aims to bring the #MeToo Movement to the Big Screen
Hollywood take on Social Media Zeitgeist
Whenever a political movement on the side of justice takes place, Hollywood usually hops on it and renders it the plot of a movie in due time. In the worst of circumstances, this model is exploitative and undermines the actual movement. In the best of circumstances, however, this same model can teach lessons, champion real world heroes, and inform larger audiences of unsung stories.
Sometimes, those topics can hit close to home for filmmakers, though. Particularly, the #MeToo movement and the women who unveiled the systemic sexual harassment in the entertainment industry is a rich, dignified story that deserves a quality retelling. One would think, however, that Hollywood wouldn’t want to produce such a film because of how many entertainment industry executives were tangled up in a number of sordid cases. That would be the unsettling assumption, but lo and behold, Annapurna Pictures and director Jay Roach made “Bombshell” this past year, a critical and commercial hit of a film that shares the fresh, true story of real women who took down Fox News executive Roger Ailes for sexual transgressions.
The success of “Bombshell” may have paved the way for a new (perhaps overdue) breed of films that take on the workplace sexual harassment and misogyny. Already, we are getting a second one.
“The Assistant” comes out on January 31st, and upon viewing the trailer, it explores many unsavory aspects of workplace misconduct. Written and directed by Australian filmmaker Kitty Green, an eerie drama that dances along the lines of horror, it had its debut at the Telluride Film Festival in August, where Bleeker Street acquired it for this oncoming wider distribution.
Ozark Standout in Leading Role
Julia Garner of “Ozark” stars as the titular character, a recent college grad and aspiring movie producer who lands her first industry job as an assistant to an entertainment tycoon. As she goes through the day-to-day woes of working as an assistant—long hours, uncomfortable interactions, and covering for her darkly mysterious boss—it slowly becomes more apparent that something suspicious is going on behind closed doors.
Her boss is bringing young women into his office and asks the assistant to lie about it when his wife calls. There are mistakes in the bookkeeping that she is told to ignore. Corruption, misinformation, and borderline criminal activity bleed through every pore of the business’ higher-ups, and to make matters worse, it seems as if the boss is also engaging in inappropriate sexual activity.
The assistant works to uncover the truth and make it public. In doing so, she risks her job (and possibly her entire career) in a highly competitive industry. More than that, she also risks her safety, for damaging the reputations of powerful people does not come without consequences.
The movie is a raw portrayal on an unfortunately commonplace situation. Having the story take place in an entertainment mogul’s office will draw parallels to the current Weinstien trial. Barring the possibility of a supernatural twist at the end, the sad reality is that “The Assistant” is not based on one true story, but on thousands of true stories both told and untold, remembered and forgotten. It is a thriller that many have lived through, and many have taken to the grave. At last, it gets representation.
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