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Bollywood Movie Reviews

The Assistant Is A MeToo Masterpiece



The Assistant(Amazon Prime  Video)

Directed  by  Kitty Green

Rating: ****

Just days before I was  left dazed by this sparkling gem—or maybe sparkling is  not quite how I should describe this film’s unostentatious power and organic energy—a movie producer confided in me, “You know , things have  changed so  much in the workplace. I used treat the girls on my team the same  as  the boys. But now I can’t tap on them on  the shoulder or call them  buddy because that’s harassment.”

 He said it  in a heavily sarcastic tone. But the truth is, much of  the behavior that was thought to be  normal at the workplace  is  no longer so. The Assistant  doesn’t lay out an elaborate  blueprint to trap the men around the  film’s heroine  to  behave in a predatory manner . Jane is  the fly on the wall—plane Jane?—who has been newly recruited as  an assistant in a movie producer’s office.

I am told the  office is modeled on  Harvey Weinstein’s Miramax. It could be. But it could be anywhere else . Jane’s  job is  to do everything from booking her boss’ flight tickets, to  making his coffee,ordering his favourite meal, escorting delegates into the office, fielding the boss’ angry wife’s  tantrums, and playing doggie-doggie with the  boss’ little  daughter in the waiting room while Boss and  Wife battle it out inside.

 Jane’s life is recorded  entirely  from her perspective. In that sense  she is the heroine  of  the  film in the truest sense . But then, she is  not the master of destiny. Isn’t that ironic? Or maybe just tragic? At times  director  Kitty Green  shoots  the  muffled  office bustle like  a documentary.We get to know of Jane’s position  in  the hierarchy in no blatant way . This is not a film that offers us easy  sides to choose from.

And when Jane hops over to HR to  complain  of possible  harassment, she sounds  unconvincing,because what she reports as  harassment has been acceptable and accepted behavior for  generations .Jane’s  conversation with the HR head(played with brilliant insidiousness  by  Matthew Macfadyen) goes downhill rapidly. It is  evidence  of how far the MeToo movement has come in search of gender equality.

 I am afraid the  picture is  not encouraging. This is  not  a film  about flag-waving, bra-burning be damned. Kitty Green  takes  us so close to Jane’s vulnerabilities we can hear suppressed sobs. In the end we are left  with no answers. Jane is  where she is. In a violently vulnerable place where the Boss(never shown in the film)  calls the shots. In  the course of one day Jane  has to send him two email apologies.She probably  apologized  the before. She  will apologize the next day  too. If she wants  to keep her job.

As  Jane,  Jennifer Garner is  just so heartbreaking in her  solitude.She has  no one to  confide in. Not in the office. Not outside. If she shares her  agonizing  conflict with her parents they will freak out, order her back to her hometown immediately.  Power  gives  an office worker  confidence. And  Jane is  powerless. She swallows her  pride and  prepares for another day.We  have no idea where she will go from here. What we’ve seen is enough.

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