Promising Young Woman

Promising Young Woman ★★★½

A rape-revenge story with the messy feel of what it might actually be like to have your life shattered by a sexual assault.

"That was humiliating! ... Why don't you just fuck off, now OK? ... Wait, are you sober? Oh shit!"

So-called 'nice guys' targeting drunk girls are about to get more than they bargained for, when their seemingly innocent prey becomes the predator. Promising Young Woman is a nail-biting, often jarring, sometimes charming, and provocative look at a woman driven to get back at the community that turned their back on her best friend. It is a little odd this hybrid revenge thriller and romantic comedy is getting Oscar buzz. But it does make sense when considering its strong political message, candy-coated style, and its staggering lead performance from Carey Mulligan as Cassandra.

While I get the purpose behind the film's messy approach, I was not necessarily on board with everything it was dishing out. I was definitely intrigued with where it was going at every moment, but ultimately it ends up being a little contrived to make its final point.

"It's every man's worst nightmare, getting accused of something like that ... Can you guess what every woman's worst nightmare is?"

(Quick Hits) ... Spoilers:

- Jeez did every young guy and some of the girls have to be total creeps?

- I have never been one to go out to bars looking to hook up, so I know very little about this kind of scenario. And it is unfortunate that so many guys try to take advantage of her, so she can flip the script on them

- The ketchup on her in the beginning, was a great way of making us think that she was actually killing them

- Even McLovin becomes one of her targets

- Obviously, taking advantage or raping someone is awful. So please don't take any of my comments about the film as a defense of those acts

- The fact that she lives with her parents, works at a coffee place she does not give a shit about just so she can teach guys a lesson each night is awfully obsessive. Which does cause her to be an interesting kinda sort of anti-hero

- It was neat to see several Criterions referenced like her parents watching 'Night of the Hunter', and a poster of 'Panique'

- Then life throws her a curveball when she becomes interested in one of her persistent former medical school classmates played by Bo Burnham. She forms a sappy rollercoaster ride of a relationship with him including them dancing around and singing a cheesy pop song in public, but also finding out each of them has a darker side

- Meantime, she launches into a plan to get back at many of the people that she feels are responsible for her friends' death, after she was assaulted at a college party. This includes a woman who feels like Cassandra and her friend Nina had a reputation of drinking too much at parties, a Dean at the college who would give the accused men the benefit of the doubt, the defense lawyer that would pressure victims to drop the case, and of course the toolbag responsible for the deed

- It is so fascinating to see Cassandra's plan play out as she uses psychological attacks instead of actually promoting the same acts she is fighting against

- I suppose the rom-com stuff with Bo Burnham is designed to get you more onboard with Cassandra's character

- Movie fans who prefer to imagine how awful something is rather than actually seeing it, will appreciate that they only show Cassandra's emotional reaction to the video of the assault ... that people actually laughing at

- That Britney Spears 'Toxic' cover was awesome

- The climax is where things become forced to create this neat little ending. So your saying she actually wanted him to kill her, since she felt that was the only way for her to get justice? I get him fighting back when she comes at him with the scalpel, but smothering her with a pillow was definitely overboard

- Hey look, his d-bag best friend is that dude from 'New Girl'

- So they just burned her body and left the ashes there?

- I enjoyed the twist at the end, with her sending the lawyer the evidence to make sure they got busted, as Bo Burnham gets her final post-dated texts ... can you actually send texts like that?

"You didn't think this was the end, did you? It is now. Enjoy the wedding! Love, Cassie & Nina."

Overall Promising Young Woman is a poignant thrilling film, that might be going a little too far to make its point. But I suppose that is what makes it so unique and memorable. I will be interested to see what kind of splash it makes during awards season.

Thanks for reading!
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