Promising Young Woman

Promising Young Woman ★★★★

Best Picture Rewatch #6

There are so many good, small observations in this that you would just never find in any other traditional rape revenge film, most notably for me a scene at the start when Cassie is walking home and begins to get catcalled by a group of construction workers. Instead of reacting she stares at them and doesn't stop until they begin to get uncomfortable and defensive. That's the scene that really embodies what I think the film is about. I'm not going to say that other people don't understand the film or whatever because that's both incorrect and condescending as hell. I do, however, think that I take away a very different message from the film than a lot of people. In my opinion, this film is about accountability, specifically people admitting that rape is what occurred and their role in it. That's why Cassie, instead of harming the guys she goes home with, just tries to talk to them and get them to admit that what they just tried to do was sexual assault. That's what her manipulation of the Alison Brie and Connie Britton characters are, is her trying to get them to admit that they are not innocent in her friend's rape and death. That's why she ultimately forgives the Alfred Molina character, because he is the one character in the entire film who actually admits that he had a hand in Nina's death and her never getting justice. All of this for me really gets driven home in the scene where she confronts Bo Burnham's character and instead of ever apologising he says that she has to forgive him, to which she just says no. Because he isn't sorry, he just wants to be with her so he's doing a piss poor job of pretending that he's sorry. The thing I love the most though is that you can see that Cassie doesn't enjoy the revenge. We see it weigh on her and that she clearly wishes there was another way but doesn't see one. Now, none of this is done perfectly, but I end up really enjoying the way it's executed, even if I still have mixed feelings about the ending.

Moving on from the more controversial aspects of this film, I really do love every aspect of craft in this film. The look of the film, from the costume and production design to the cinematography are all fantastic. Carey Mulligan truly is transcendent in this film and if she wins - which at this point I think she will - she will absolutely deserve it. Honestly, at this point she should probably have several Oscars, so hopefully this one leads to many more. I'm not the first to talk about this, but god I love the casting of all the men in the film. All of these 'nice guys' are played by actors known for being lovable men on sitcoms and beloved comedians, which means that we automatically feel a certain way about them. When I see Adam Brody or Bo Burnham, my first instinct is to like them (well... not so much Adam Brody after Jennifer's Body, but you get my point). The rest of the supporting cast is also great; Laverne Cox, Alfred Molina and Jennifer Coolidge should be in literally every movie.

Wow, this ended up being longer than I thought it would be. This is a tricky movie and it's certainly not my favourite of the Best Picture nominees, but ultimately I end up enjoying it quite a bit. Suffice to say I'm very excited for whatever Emerald Fennell decides to do next in the realm of film.

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