Promising Young Woman

Promising Young Woman ★★★★½

You know, speaking as a person who was sexually assaulted in college which accelerated my already rapidly declining depressive state which led to several breakdowns which caused me to drop out and also attempt to... commit ✨not alive✨multiple times, I may be a bit biased when I say this movie fucking slaps. 

I’m trying to decide, right now as I’m writing this, how to delicately approach this subject matter. Because my personal way of coping is to speak frankly about things or to try and make them into a joke. In a way move them from the trauma department of my brain to the “wow isn’t that wacky, I don’t know her” department of my brain. But I also know sometimes people don’t wanna hear about it in a frank manner with added comedic zest, which is completely understandable, so perhaps tread lightly in continuing to read.

(Hi future Karrie here returning to this section after I finished writing the rest to go ahead and issue an official content warning for some fairly graphic mentions of sexual assault in following section.)

But it can be easy to look back on something in retrospect and find the comedy. There were several funny elements, in all fairness. Like the fact that I was perusing the Halloween clearance section at Target when he approached, telling me just how beautiful I am and asking for my phone number. I was holding a metal golden bird foot decoration at the time, which I’m realizing right now was fitting, the way he circled me like a vulture looking me up and down with such loving eyes. The way you circle something you plan to devour once it’s resigned to its fate. The kind of heavy handed symbolism that you might groan at in a piece of fiction. It’s funny looking back that after I left his lovely company I drove over to one of my close friend’s apartment in tears to try and work through what had just happened and he, obviously, had no clue what to do to help, so he suggested we go see a movie and we went to see The Last Witch Hunter starring Vin Diesel. I don’t remember much about the film but to my friend’s eternal credit, that did help in the moment. 

On the other hand, naturally, there’s mostly not funny parts. It’s not very funny that he could tell I was uncomfortable (“you seem nervous, you’re all quiet, you ok?”) but proceeded anyway. It’s not very funny that he, after beginning to touch himself in front of me he grabbed my hand and forced me to touch his horrific penis. It’s not very funny that he told me, as I was holding back tears, that I should really thank him. You know, since I told him I’d never been intimate with anyone before and now I had. It’s not very funny that my boss congratulated me when he saw the hicky on my neck at work the next day. Its not very funny that after being assaulted I felt the need to text him and apologize for not wanting to be involved with him any further. It’s not very funny that after I blocked his number he would randomly reach out and text me from different phone numbers trying to get ahold of me or just trying to get me to “show me them titties”. It’s not very funny that he was “being gentle and moving slow” yet I had a ripped bra and torn sweater at the end of the night. It’s not very funny that I cannot go a single day without thinking about it. It’s not very funny that I can’t let anyone close to me now because I only feel that same fear and that same pain. It’s not very funny that whenever someone compliments me for anything physical I recoil in pain. I imagine this is torturous to read at this point so I’ll just assume you get the picture. 

The thing this film really nails for me personally though is the dwelling. I’ll bet, if I passed this dude on the street now, he wouldn’t even remember me. What I wouldn’t give to be able to go a day without thinking about what happened. To be able to move on with my life as if that was just another October night. There’s just so much pain and it feels like it doesn’t have anywhere to go. So it gets soothed in small doses, with cathartically wonderful heavy handed slightly misguided personal masterpieces like Promising Young Woman. Can’t say how this would play to a person who didn’t enter the theater with the same baggage as me, but I’ll say for me it was exactly what I needed.

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