Promising Young Woman

Promising Young Woman

There is an early twist that made me go, not gonna like this one. Think: keys on the hotel bar. But I grew to like the poisonous anger, the audacity, the willingness to go there, to go too far. And then that twist reversed. And the anger was there, but the audacity was gone. What to make of it?

Later, Carey Mulligan smashes the brakelights of a truck, middle of the day. Hero shot. But this confrontation hardly tilts the scales of power. The grammar doesn't match the grandeur. Or am I one step behind - and the fact that this action is so small, so isolated, the point? More shattered candy glass, a notebook full of uncounted color coded tallies that add up to zero progress. This is a portrait of desperate violence, by which I mean, the root of the violence is despair. The problem is too big for her to think that she alone can make a difference. Cassandra knows what's wrong. As usual, no one believes her.

"William Faulkner has never in his life sat in on a discussion in a Negro home where there were all Negroes," Lorraine Hansberry said. "It is physically impossible." To the extent that she is after the way men talk and behave when they are alone, Fennell undertakes a similar fantasy, one reverse illuminated by its limitations. As the film opens, we see men in the bar talking loud, both to be heard over the music and in a boorish peacocking display. This is how men behave in public. At the film's end, we see how men might behave in private, a shadow wedding that anticipates the finale, and an ancient male ritual: the burning altar, the binding ring, a pledge to have and to hold, for better or for worse. It is pure bromance, Fennell's most cleverly coated pill.

Another quote, this one from notoriously crooked politician Edwin Edwards: "The only way I can lose this election is if I’m caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy." Fennell keys into this dynamic, not only that men can get away with committing worse violence to girls, but that powerful men like Edward act with impunity, and <u>know</u> they act with impunity. So the proto-vows scene in the bedroom between Al and Joe exists in a different world from the rest of the movie. It's childish, shifting gears from a fantasia of consequences, the midnight men transformed into daylight boys by an exonerating confessional, look what you made me do. Fennell's film is characterized by constant downshifting: to ratchet up, and draw back; sustained anticlimax; the final escalation a submission to the rules of the game. How do you catch a guy who's already done the second worst thing he can do to a person, and gotten away with it?

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