Promising Young Woman Movie Review

Promising Young Woman

Directed by Emerald Fennell

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Adrian Brody

From the first second, I saw the Promising Young Woman trailer last year I knew it was going to be something incredibly special. What I hadn’t expected was how healing it would be. You all know my feelings on Killing Eve and writer Emerald Fennell. So seeing she was the mind behind this incredible trailer, I knew without a doubt I was going to love Promising Young Woman.

A promising start

Promising Young Woman is centered around Cassandra ‘Cassie’ Thomas (Carey Mulligan) who, on the surface is a ‘nice average young lady’. She is working in what is aesthetically the best coffee shop I’ve ever seen, since dropping out of med school and living with her parents. However, by night she is pursuing a very different goal. She goes to bars, and pretends to be extremely drunk in order to lure in men. The kind of men who don’t think twice about approaching a clearly vulnerable lone, woman who can barely stand, let alone consent.

However, this doesn’t just happen once, oh no Cassie’s ledger is full. Full of the kind of men who consider a drunk woman fair game. The kind who’d say that the women are ‘asking for it for getting that drunk’. Or who are the ‘nice’ guys taking her home from the bar. But not to her home, to their home to continue to ply with alcohol and take whatever they deem they are owed. Let’s not forget though, that our Cassie is not drunk, not even a little bit. And that moment this is revealed? That’s a moment of pure power and dominance.

Truthful and full of importance 

Whilst the premise of the film is concerned with ideas of consent, rape culture, its victims and taking revenge on those who perpetrated these acts. It never once feels anything other than truthful. I would wager that 9/10 viewers would recall an instance similar to this happening if not to them, then to someone they know. This is why films like this are so damn important.

Promising Young Woman is not your typical rape-revenge film, a-la I Spit On Your Grave. Promising Young Woman is grounded in reality and believability whilst still providing that catharsis. Don’t let the films bright colour palette fool you- Promising Young Women doesn’t force a happy ending. Don’t get me wrong, the ending is perfect in its execution. It reminded me in part of the Invisible Man, these men, these animals got exactly what they deserved.

An avenging angel

Cassie is like an avenging angel. Her rage is so intense and so righteous. She does not simper to please the men around her. Her impeccable delivery of genuinely funny, albeit often dark humour and acting just cements the feeling of realism. At no point do we feel sorry for Cassie or the men who try to take advantage. She has done no wrong in my eyes. She is so impeccably crafted, so strong and brave but you can see the pain she carries. The pain never wavers or leaves her, even when others beg her to move on. Mulligan delivers what is surely one of her best roles so far. 

So many scenes, conversations and excuses hit me square in the gut, but the realism doesn’t ever push to hard. We aren’t forced to see look upon something that is visceral and harmful. By the end, I felt some of the weight lifted. So often women are the blame for being the victims of the crime. Well, fuck that noise. Make Promising Young Woman required watching. No more boys will be boys, no more blaming the victims.

Promising Young Woman so loudly shows how fucked up this cultures is and if nothing else I hope it holds up a mirror to the absurdity, demands change and I hope it heals. I hope for anyone who has ever felt alone, felt it was their fault or felt shame in themselves, it was not you and you are not alone.

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