Heads up, Kitty Green (the director and writer) doesn’t want to emphasise this film as being related to Harvey Weinstein. His shadow sure looms over, but I can see where she’s coming from.
All this is about essentially is a day-in-the-life of a film company assistant, Jane (played with extremely committed low-key energy by Julia Garner and her name’s notably rarely mentioned throughout). She arrives very early, and’s subject to very mundane tasks, whether it be cleaning the office sofa or serving coffee. Not only does Garner’s performance emphasise the mundaneness, but so does the cinematography, with camera angles largely kept straight and the colour palette being very plain. What also particularly adds up is the way two co-workers (performed by Jon Orsini and Noah Robbins) go out of their way to demean her, etc.
Overall though, if there is a plot point in The Assistant, it’s when a new, evidently young assistant turns up, and Jane has suspicions that escalate. It won’t do me good to reveal anything more, but I’ll just say it culminates in a somehow understated+very intense scene between her and the company’s HR manager, portrayed with effective creep by Matthew Macfadyen.
And that just about covers the movie without spoiling too much. I don’t always think a film’s perfect, but within respect to the tone especially, it’s pretty much full marks all round! If you really want to see how unfortunate it can sadly be for females in the workplace (although perhaps the arguably still ongoing MeToo movement gives us hope), go watch this. I certainly came away enlightened.