Promising Young Woman

Promising Young Woman

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

This review may contain spoilers.

Promising Young Woman asks the question "what does a rape revenge film in the era of #MeToo look like" but is so fundamentally uncomfortable with the idea of that revenge, in any permutations, that the first 3/4s of the film are low-brow 3rd Wave listicle-format lectures on "nice guys" and date rape and it ends with its protagonist, framed the whole time as literally messianic, failing her one attempted murder, getting killed herself, and the "justice" served against the primary rapist of the film through his arrest by police, as fulfilled by the lawyer who got the rapist off of his charges the first time. It's also a voyeuristic premise; the inciting incident isn't Carey Mulligan's rape, as it is in almost every other rape revenge film, but the death of her friend who was sexually assaulted and committed suicide when shamed. This makes her motivations have this uncanny and disquieting self-insert quality that I'm terrified to unpack further, but nonetheless, it's a fraudulent film that thinks herpes jokes and dead child jokes pass as "dark humor," has an unironic Black Girl Best Friend character in an otherwise almost totally white cast (there is also a Black would be sexual predator) played by Laverne Cox, and stacks its cast with a lot of known entities (though mostly TV famous (Max Greenfield and Connie Britton and Adam Brody)) to have them all play this dramedy out with as type-casted beats as possible (Alfred Molina does basically Brock Turner's lawyer Doc Ock, Bo Burnham plays nice guy romantic interest who *betrays expectation* by being a chauvinistic, self-pitying rape apologist). There's neither an interest in direct, survivor-actioned retribution, nor non-punitive restorative justice; there's just buzzwords and poorly conceived bits, a shock ending that undermines the drama and comedy, and just a generalized patina of neoliberal self congratulations. Paaaasssss.

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