Promising Young Woman

Promising Young Woman ★★★½

She who seeks revenge should start by digging two graves.

What I like about this revenge fantasy is that it reverses the typical genre trajectory. Genre classics like The Count of Monte Cristo or Lady Snowblood exaggerate the means of revenge to fantastical proportions. Emerald Fennell subverts our expectations in a shift from fantasy towards plausibility.

It would be impossible for young woman like Cassie to find a secret hoard of jewels like Edmond Dantès, rebrand herself a countesses, and use the wealth to bring down those who caused her friend’s death. Nor could this petite suburban ex-med student become trained assassin capable of slaying a series of predatory bros.

Instead of actual acts of vengeance, Cassie is on a quest to exact symbolic acts of vengeance: humiliation, forced empathy, and at its most extreme cutting the name of the victim into the assailant’s skin. Fennell saves the fantastical elements for the film’s candy store color scheme, the Furniture-Warehouse-meets-Versailles set decoration, and satiric whip-smart dialogue.

I knew Carey Mulligan was one of our great actors so I wasn’t surprised by her Oscar-worthy performance. However, when I was binging on the The Crown and marveling at what a posh bitch Camilla Parker Bowles was, I’d wouldn’t have guessed the actor playing her, Emerald Fennell, would give me one of my favorite movies of the year.

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