I am biased as I like the fabulous Julia Garner (i.a. Ozark). But this is an excellent study in a day in the life. Also very true to the film business and large corporation HR tactics. Finally a well made #metoo film.
It is well paced and edited. You can argue that nothing happens but it is difficult to make a film where nothing happens and still be very good.
And something does happen. It is about power dynamics. It is anxious and unnerving, exhausting. She is full of self and environ evaluation.
Julia Garner’s face is central here. Every thought, every emotion, every single thing Jane thinks and then chooses not to say, is crucial in building the tension. In close-ups where we watch her think. It’s captivating.
Jane is an assistant at a movie production company (obviously modelled on Miramax), located in a couple of buildings in lower Manhattan. Jane has only been on the job for 5 weeks, and is fully acclimated (or indoctrinated) to the semi-terrifying office culture. The new kid on the block, she gets the “shit detail” of handling travel arrangements, greeting guests, bringing danishes into conference rooms, and then sweeping up the danish crumbs afterwards. The hours are long. She expected it. It is a great company and a tremendous opportunity for her. She works side by side with two other assistants (both men), and occasionally has to go up to other floors to pass out new script drafts for upcoming projects. The film takes place during one very long day, when Jane comes to sense that something may be off, with her boss for sure, but also in the company he created, and an environment that protects/ignores/denies what is really going on.
You never see the boss in full in the film. At the most, he is a dark blur passing in front of the camera on his way somewhere (he’s always on his way somewhere). Other than that: his voice is heard through the door, through the thin office walls, through the phone: you can hear the tone, but the words are always garbled. You never see his face. And yet he hovers over every scene like a dark thick cloud, creating an atmosphere—threatening, tense—even in his absence. It’s probably more accurate to say he is the atmosphere. He is never referred to by name, even though every conversation is about him. Although this is never commented on explicitly, by the characters or by the filmmaker Kitty Green, the constant references to “He” is a pointed commentary. Being referred to as “He” where no one ever asks “Who are you talking about?” … that’s Power.
USA 2020, 87 min, rated M (offensive language & sexual themes)
Directed by Kitty Green
Starring Julia Garner, Matthew MacFadyen, Patrick Wilson, Makenzie Leigh, Kristine Froseth, Noah Robbins & Jon Orsini