Promising Young Woman

Promising Young Woman ★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

I’m a bit baffled by my own feelings towards this and to the immense praise it’s getting. On some level, I kind of understand the latter. It’s often cathartic, often debilitating but mostly hollow. 

I’m honestly not sure what the general thesis is here or who is ultimately for. I mean I get it but I’m also left wanting more. I just don’t feel like Fennell has a handle on her script. It’s simultaneously too exploitative to sensitively handle what it’s aiming for but then again I felt it wasn’t exploitative to the people who deserve it enough?

And perhaps that’s the point. Perhaps Cassandra’s lack of internal life and barely there character is the point. I just couldn’t parse it. Women are undeniably victimized. Both by awful men and more often than not by “nice guys.” Fennell makes a lot good use out of brutally upending the latter and I think the most distressingly honest moment is the feel good montage with Ryan because you know it’s not going to last. 

Ugh. I feel kind of adrift with this. It’s just all so muddled and brings nothing new to the conversation. The latter isn’t really a problem because in a world that refuses to listen to women, yelling the obvious is continuously needed. But in making Cassandra a symbol ultimately destined to be used and discarded of, only to be “avenged” by a justice system the film spends an hour and a half rightly denigrating, the film falls flat on its face. 

As a victim of assault by a “nice guy” (though my experience and understanding can never truly be that of a woman’s) it is validating to see some of that depicted. I just wish it chose a lane. Either go all in or don’t but the waffling led to me, personally, feeling at a remove. 

Without Carey Mulligan’s incredible performance I think I might have hated this. It’s not very interesting from a filmmaking standpoint and it’s too undecided to leave any lasting imprint. 

I’m so disappointed in this. But I also totally understand and appreciate why people are loving it. Wish it did it for me.

I am glad that this is causing so many conversations and just in talking to a few friends post-viewing, I feel myself appreciate what it’s going for a little more. It just comes down to execution for me and I’m not sure the film hits it.

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