Promising Young Woman

Promising Young Woman ★★★½

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

This review may contain spoilers.

I was kind of dreading watching this film, seeing people rate it highly or poorly. And it was all right.

I don’t think the messy morality play aspect of it was really particularly well-written, but I feel this was meant more just to provoke in kind of a gross, exploitative way. How is this any different than Goodfellas? It’s clearly not endorsing the views of the main character, but I can see why people have a problem with this. I hoped for so long that I misinterpreted the part where a lead character hired someone who appears to be a professional rapist. What the fuck? THAT’S what you came up with, Emerald Fennell?! This reminds me of when everyone was complaining about Three Billboards being a wild, cartoonish interpretation of America.

But the movie is clearly not trying to be realistic. I think the best take I’ve heard on it was that this was like a Tarantino film. It’s fun to watch, but it’s not particularly filled with deep meaning. If you love perfectly centered wide angle shots, this movie is for you.

I tend to like some revenge movies, John Wick being one of my favorites, mostly because they don’t spend a ton of time getting to know the victims. Not that any of those characters have a ton of depth. The lead character monologues SEVERAL times in a way that just bored me, to be honest. I think the movie tries to walk this line of building a character who feels justified in her morals and not losing people with a ton of overt violence. Since you’re already writing about a nutjob who falls asleep in the middle of a street, then takes a tire iron to some random guy’s truck, go ahead and give me all of the violence! I don’t think people are walking away from this saying, “What nuance!” right?

The acting was good. Carrie Mulligan was fun and Bo Burnham was loveable in that way that I wish I could hate him more, but he just exudes self-deprecating charisma. I understand the function of it, but I’m not sure I needed the romance storyline. For being such a subversive movie, it seemed to teeter on wholeheartedly embracing a traditional view of relationships and monogamy, which just felt off.

Loses a half star for the ending for me. I don’t think I’m upset because of the incredibly contrived controversy, but I’m much, much more annoyed that it wrapped up SO much with scheduled text messages, the DUMBEST narrative device I have ever seen in a movie.

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