Promising Young Woman

Promising Young Woman ★★★★½

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

This review may contain spoilers.

When I saw the trailer, I was worried one of two plot points would happen:

1 - an overwhelming amount of violent justice toward the male predators, which would remove any sense of realism (not that it would be a BAD movie would simply be an extremely different movie than the one I was hoping they made).

2 - Carey Mulligan's character intentionally seducing the male predators while pretending to be wasted (not that this would make them any less of would simply be a boring trope we've already seen before. And it feels like a decision a male director would make).

Imagine my relief 15 minutes into the movie when it became crystal clear that neither was going to happen! From that point on, I was continually impressed by how much singular voice Emerald Fennell put into this film. The story, script, soundtrack, costume design, hair and makeup, set design, and tone all feel like one cohesive vision. I don't remember ever being this impressed by someone's first film. I personally didn't love the third act, but at least it felt like it was intentionally written. I don't think the ending was tacked on as an afterthought, and I don't think movies about sexual assault always need to end with healthy portrayals of hope and survival. Would it have been amazing if this movie instead found a way for Cassie to live a fulfilling life after experiencing gut-wrenching trauma? Yes! Is it okay that the director chose to NOT make that movie? Yes!

I would rate this movie five stars if my brain could get past one tiny omission...there should have been a single scene where a female in one of the bars defended Cassie or helped her get home safely. Obviously this doesn't happen 100% of the time in the real world, but including it would make the world seem less bleak. Because the world really isn't this bleak! I would physically and emotionally harm any man I saw taking advantage of a drunk, solo female in a public place! Easy peasy! Plus I think Fennell could have perfectly written and filmed a scene like this; my favorite two scenes in the movie were Cassie with her father after dinner and Cassie meeting Alfred Molina. Both scenes prove how powerful the direction and screenwriting were, providing hope for Cassie and therefore hope for freaking humanity. I kept thinking in the theater that if Joker had a single scene close to those two, maybe I wouldn't hate it with a burning passion (yes, I'm disappointed in myself for comparing this movie to Joker).

I've watched Carey Mulligan's career since freaking 2005 when Pride and Prejudice came out. It's electric knowing she's finally getting the attention she's deserved for so long.

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