The Assistant (2019, Kitty Green)

Portrait of a hostile work environment. Full of small insults and ironies: she gets a papercut opening a dinner invitation from the White House. The two guys sharing her office space only pitch in to help when she has to write apology emails to the boss (“I won’t let you down again”). Interesting approach to never show the monster boss, and to follow someone who’s an indirect victim, not one of the casting-couch hotties or the girl from Idaho (the actress actually from Norway) who shows up to work with no experience and is being put up in a swanky hotel where the boss keeps visiting. For a while I thought the boss’s activities would remain a background buzz and never be directly addressed, but no, her conversation with a real wormy HR guy (the 2005 Mr. Darcy) is the movie’s centerpiece. The movie isn’t Akermanian exactly, but it’s more Akermanian than most films. Star Julia Garner is from Ozark and Sin City 2.

A.S. Hamrah in The Baffler: “The Assistant is the only film in which I’ve seen the shame-filled, eating-in-a-Manhattan-bodega aspect of life in New York City portrayed so acutely, or at all.”