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CULTURE

‘The Assistant’: A #MeToo Movie?

“The story centers on an entertainment mogul who terrorizes those who work for him and preys on the young actresses that enter his office looking for their big break. Sound familiar?”

With the #MeToo movement permeating culture for the last two years, it’s surprising that Hollywood hasn’t capitalized on it much. Is the new drama/thriller film The Assistant going to succeed in doing just that?

Although we never get to see the villain in the new film, the plot is obviously a thinly veiled parallel to several high-profile cases we’ve seen of sexual and emotional abuse in the workplace. The story centers on an entertainment mogul who terrorizes those who work for him and preys on the young actresses that enter his office looking for their big break. Sound familiar?

Julia Garner (“Ozark”) stars as Jane, a recent college graduate and new arrival at the company. She’s one of a trio of assistants at the small office, whose sole purpose is to heed their boss’s every request and apologize profusely should they fail.

Written and directed by Kitty Green, who previously worked on documentaries, The Assistant is drawing comparisons to previous films that predated the #MeToo era but shared similar scenarios about power dynamics in glamorous industries: Swimming With Sharks and The Devil Wears Prada.

The new indie film is being called a “#MeToo version of a monster movie” with its premise. It’s also receiving good reviews: on Rotten Tomatoes, it holds an approval rating of 84% based on 49 reviews, with an average rating of 7.2/10. On Metacritic, which assesses films on a score out of 100, The Assistant holds a score 72 based on reviews from 10 critics, indicating “generally favorable reviews.”

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However, it’s telling that The Assistant is being released in January, which is typically a sluggish time of the year for movies. Studios must have not had much faith in its commercial or critical appeal, as most movies released during this period are viewed as.

Although the #MeToo phenomenon is clearly buoyed by widespread support in our culture, it may not translate to movies that are glamorous or amusing enough for its very supporters to cough up money at the local cineplex.

The Assistant premiered Jan. 31 in the U.S. in select theaters. It’s rated R.

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