Film Reviews: “The Assistant”, “A Promising Young Woman”

Posted by in Activism, Culture, Feminism, Politics

One positive outcome from Covid mismanagement has been the wider releases given to independent films while blockbusters are on hold. These are two great examples.

The Assistant” is the brilliantly acted and directed story of a young personal assistant to the head of a film company, based on Australia’s Miramax. It follows in painful detail Jane’s extremely long working day as she provides the essential organisation behind the life of the unseen sexual predator, her boss. The toxic male culture of her workplace is revealed through the many small humiliations – typing emails of apology after “failing” to manage his distressed wife, a visit to a chilling “human resources” staffer who crushes any hopes of change. Highly recommended, and very thought provoking. One of many Covid experiences which have revealed what a toxic brew today’s corporate culture is, unless you uphold it.

A longer review from Robert Ebert can be read here:

A Promising Young Woman” is equally brilliant and revealing, this time of the United States’ college and bar cultures, where for decades men have been able to ply women with drink and drugs for sexual abuse with almost non-existent legal recourse for the victims. The extract below from “ puts it well:

“Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman is an incendiary work of filmmaking that’s bound to get people talking, not because it’s looking for attention, but because it’s angry and sad in all the best ways. The film makes big swing after big swing not to be showy, but because it’s pissed off about a conversation that’s long overdue and a culture that shields criminals and discards victims. Fennell has crafted a movie about rape where no one actually says the word “rape” because it hangs in the air in every scene, in every interaction, in every excuse. I was absolutely floored by Promising Young Woman, not just because Fennell proves she’s already a master of her craft with her first feature film, but because it’s unapologetic in pointing out complicity.

Promising Young Woman recognizes the world is broken and the time for kind words and second chances has passed..”

Full review here, but I’d recommend seeing the film before reading too much about it first:

Watching the complicity of first-response policing in this film reminded me of an interview on Radio New Zealand many years back, when a pioneering woman sheriff from the United States was explaining how effective one simple change was in reducing violence by men against women – at the first callout, her team treated the case like a crime scene and gathered physical as well as verbal evidence. Little has changed in standard policing policy since, there or here.