The Assistant (1997) Poster


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5 ReviewsOrdered By: Helpfulness
Superb Movie
drdancm-22 March 2002
Based on the not so great ratings, I never expected this quiet little movie to be so wonderful. Based on a Malamud story, which I have not read, yet, it manages to convey the feeling that a Bernard Malamud, or Isaac Bashevis Singer, story often evokes. This is not an easy thing for a film, as many readers know how difficult it is to find movies that manage to successfully capture the feeling of the written work.

This film succeeds in conveying the complex emotional web in which the characters find themselves entangled.

I am saddened, but not surprised, that so many of the reviews, here on IMDb, are not as glowing as my take on this gem of a film. Not surprisingly, out of the 49 or so reviews, the gender breakdown shows that women on the whole like this film more than the men.

This is a rather quiet and gentle movie, although there are some scenes of frightening violence, that speaks to both the heart and mind.

Since I wrote this review, I have read the book, and it is superb, and I can now state that, in my opinion, this movie has successfully made the transition from book to film. The movie has really captured the feel of the book. If you enjoyed either one, be sure to try the other.

I still still think about this story. The story exemplifies the concept of "Remorse and Redemption" read the book and see the movie. Absolutely SUPERB.
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Not quite saccharine enough
mabelladoux15 March 2002
Warning: Spoilers
While this film may seem as innocuous as a syrupy greeting card, it has a chilling quality and an underlying message that I can't shake or swallow.

This is a story of a down and out "honest but unlucky" guy Frank (Gil Bellows) in the fourties, who feels guilty about his part in a robbery that sees an old man knocked senseless. To assuage his guilt he returns to the scene of his crime and ingratiates himself into the shopowners' household and into a job. Fleeting glimpses of the shopowner's daughter make his blood start to pump and he takes to creeping out a night to peer through the bathroom window while she bathes. The sweet lilting music during these scenes should have tipped me off that instead of considering this kind of behaviour offensive and troublesome, the filmmakers thought it was part of the romance that was building between them.

A relationship develops between Frank and Helen despite their having to sneak around, on account of her being a jewess and his being a christian. He presses her for sex, and she says no a couple times, then on the evening when she plans to tell him she will succomb to her love for him, her father realizes Frank is part of the robbery team and throws him out. Helen unknowing goes to keep her date with him later in the park, but before they meet she is attacked by Frank's old accomplice and just as he is about to rape her, in comes Frank to beat the guy up - and here's the kicker - ONLY TO TURN AND RAPE HER HIMSELF.

She is suitably upset, tells him off and spurns his continuing advances which amount by modern standards to stalking; taking a job in the neighbourhood and following her to the library. At this point I was incredulous, how could they resolve this? No they weren't really - Yes - they are going to do it - her father dies, she forgives Frank and its happily ever after - Oh I guess its okay to rape a girl if you really love her - that is not such a superb message for the modern world.
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a religious themed movie that is not condescending
Jay Harris28 November 2000
Most films that have a religious motif are generally overly sactimonious, The Assistant does not fall into this trap. Gil Bellows plays a drifter who innocently helps rob a small store owned by Armand Mueller-Stahl & Joan Plowright. He goes back to the store to make amends,The older couple have a daughter. Well as you can imagine they are Jewish Bellows is a gentile. All the ensuing problems are magnificently handled, & the conclusion is first rate without being sloppy sentiment

The acting is first rate I highly recommend this

jay Harris
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Interesting, but uneven
sgwilcox11 October 2000
A mildly interesting movie, but rather predictable and uneven. Some scenes seem strangely out of place with only a mild connection to the story. Armin Mueller-Stahl is, as always, a joy to watch. Kate Greenhouse is radiant but I found her character a little unbelievable, at least in the last scene. Without giving anything away, I am not sure I could take forgiveness that far.
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Warning!!! Not for Children!!!
Elisha Blatt10 January 2005
Warning!!! Not for Children!!!

This movie contains a RAPE scene!!! Yet, it is not rated! It contains other Sexual and nudity scenes as well as violence and foul language.

I would have been able to enjoy the story's message much better had I NOT taken my 11 year old with me. This movie should be 'R' rated I read Bernard Malamud's "The Assistant" many years ago, and it stuck with me. When I heard it would screen at a local Temple in San Diego, I jumped on the opportunity to view it with my son. I tried to find the rating for it but couldn't. Moreover, when I asked about rating before purchasing tickets I was told it may contain some objectionable language but I was assured there would be no sex. I guess they neglected to pre-view the movie.

My advice: go see it, but leave the kids at home.
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