The Assistant ★★★★½

I've written about how the first half of Audition is already horrific, well before the more overt violence starts. This entire movie is just like that first half, told from the perspective of somehow who doesn't have any power. It's an anxious, gut-wrenching experience, even though it's mostly showing us everyday office tasks. But it lays out the situation so eloquently: here is an office full of people that know that something wrong is happening, that know that the person they work for is a monster. But they don't do anything. They make excuses. They pass if off as something that just happens, something that can't be helped.

And so, nothing changes. And this is what really hurts. In Audition, though the violence is awful, it's also a narrative comeuppance. It's a release of the tension. This movie can't offer any release. It's doesn't offer an escape from the suffocating oppression that it depicts. It makes stay in there, in the forced complicity of its characters, feeling all the dread and anxiety that one terrible man can generate.