Promising Young Woman

Promising Young Woman ★★½

Its sugar-coated rage – at all these casually hideous men (though please, pop culture, stop with the DFW shorthand, it’s so boring and lazy and myopic) and the whole system that keeps letting them get away with it – is powerful, though Fennell never really finds a way to go as far as she seems to want to. My ambivalence toward this made some sense once I learned she’s one of the show-runners of the similarly toothless Killing Eve, art that only feels like fangs to people who don’t really like to be bitten; outside of that fantastic scene with the tire iron, the film’s similarly risible in the most safely superficial ways possible (and its use of music similarly cringe-inducingly obvious and manipulative). Whatever the film has to say – about trauma's open wounds, feminine solidarity, male privilege, the simmering violence of the nice guy, all society’s gross hypocrisies – it says relatively quickly, and so, like Cassie with her bouts of night stalking, we’re left just doing variations of the same thing over and over. “I had what I think was an epiphany, but my doctors called it a psychotic episode.” Plot twists mistaken for insights, the climax wants to have its Instagram-worthy cake and eat it too; a bit of karmic justice like a piece of candy to make us forget everything that’s still worth being angry about.

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