Movie Review – Promising Young Woman (2020)

Promising Younger Lady, 2020.

Written and Directed by Emerald Fennell.
Starring Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Laverne Cox, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Alison Brie, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Molly Shannon, Connie Britton, Angela Zhou, Steve Monroe, Max Greenfield, Chris Lowell, Adam Brody, Alfred Molina, and Sam Richardson.



A younger lady, traumatized by a tragic occasion in her previous, seeks out vengeance in opposition to those that cross her path.


To an alarming quantity of individuals, there isn’t a world well being disaster till they’re attending a funeral through Zoom for a relative. The identical applies to sexual assault, which a regarding quantity of individuals, together with some girls, are snug trying away from if that promising younger man has a vivid future. However what concerning the promising younger lady that’s denied justice?

In Promising Younger Lady, Carey Mulligan performs Cassandra who’s pushing 30, dwelling together with her dad and mom, and dealing at a espresso store regardless of as soon as attending a medical faculty and excelling close to the highest of her class. At night time, she feigns intoxication at slimy nightclubs, taking part in the position of the prey on would-be rapist males that proclaim they’re “good guys” and want to take her dwelling underneath the guise of making certain security when actually all they need to do is have some advantageous date-rapey sloppy drunk intercourse. In fact, that’s earlier than turning the tables and scaring the shit out of them, all with the road of considering that they’ll rethink their seedy strategies.


That’s one factor that must be made clear about actor turned author/director Emerald Fennell’s Promising Younger Lady; Cassandra just isn’t some psychopath or serial killer of evil males; her MO is instilling worry into them, and within the circumstances of different girls, bending her ethical compass putting them into distressing predicaments that power a relation to her ache. There’s a scene the place she revisits her medical faculty for a confrontation with the Dean (Connie Britton) who mainly helped pull underneath the rug a disturbing case of sexual abuse similar to say a real-life Brock Turner or Brett Kavanaugh incident. Going again to what needs to be one of many saddest truths of humanity in that some individuals solely care when they’re those being affected, Cassandra does one thing that, with out giving it away, modifications the Dean’s tune fairly fast; you’d assume she noticed a ghost given how fast she does a psychological 180.

Cassandra resides two lives (one thing Carey Mulligan is extraordinary at right here, particularly when a scene requires her to go from weak to in cost), unable to maneuver on from what occurred to her pal Nina. Along with terrifying random guys at golf equipment, Cassandra can also be planning a grand expose scheme on Alan (Chris Lowell), her useless pal’s abuser that now occurs to stay a comfortable life and is about to marry a mannequin. The tree of complicity additionally goes past the Dean and into a very chilly pal named Madison (performed by Alison Brie) who appears to have drunk an excessive amount of of the Kool-Help with regards to siding with males and their sufferer shaming, and a lawyer performed by Alfred Molina who took half in silencing quite a few sexual abuse circumstances over his tenure now feeling responsible to the purpose the place he’s virtually asking for Cassandra to harm him.


Concurrently, Cassandra can also be growing a powerful friendship with Ryan, a pediatric physician performed by Bo Burnham. And whereas the antics of Cassandra taking part in video games with soiled males has a justified imply streak of black comedy, her interactions with Ryan are a unique model of comedy. There may be additionally a way of real affection from Ryan; possibly he is without doubt one of the so-called “good guys”. In a inventive alternative that additional proves how assured Emerald Fennell is in switching up tones, even the lighting and colour palette for these scenes tackle the look of an optimistic romance, a stark comparability to the brooding and atmospheric presentation of the dirty moments. Cassandra can also be a extremely complicated character, so stepping away from that double life in pursuit of one thing happier just isn’t essentially going to be straightforward, whereas letting down her guard and letting somebody into her coronary heart could possibly be catastrophic for sure causes.

It goes with out saying that one of many biggest strengths of Promising Younger Lady (other than Carey Mulligan dominating a task not like something she has ever approached, and in addition not like something I’ve ever seen in a touted revenge film) is the unpredictability of its narrative. This isn’t a movie that’s extremist within the message it desires to painting, which has been a serious drawback for latest movies that tried to fire up a profound creative assertion throughout the #MeToo motion. It’s additionally not right here to excuse any of this habits. And it positive as hell just isn’t going the route of over-the-top violent revenge fantasy.


Emerald Fennell tensely builds to a closing act that performs out shockingly, though we shouldn’t be stunned that the movie refuses to finish on a traditional observe. Promising Younger Lady begins off within the realm of darkish comedy (whether or not it’s watching Christopher Mintz-Plasse of Superbad fame taking part in an incel writing a e-book about how onerous males have it or some actually devilish needle drops like a darkish cowl of Raining Males) after which shifts into the makings of a romantic comedy. Nonetheless, Emerald Fennell by no means actually embraces that romantic comedy half, as a result of that may indicate dishonesty to those characters, and all through each single tonal shift, Promising Younger Lady stays trustworthy to them. In a means that the romantic comedy scenes really feel just like the film being one thing it’s not, it’s additionally Cassandra dwelling a life she just isn’t destined to have. It’s clear from the start that is at all times going to finish devastatingly, however how stays an elusive thriller till a string of daring decisions closes out the narrative, able to elicit dialogues in an unquantifiable quantity of instructions.

Promising Younger Lady is a scintillating story of sexual abuse that, even in its narrative construction, persistently examines the techniques that permit males to get away with horrific crimes. It’s additionally not afraid to make layered statements about revenge and, for one character, forgiveness. There are many Me Too period movies skewering this type of abuse, however Promising Younger Lady is certainly one of only some that really appears to need to spark severe conversations about any of it. Carey Mulligan matches that vitality of going someplace provocative each step of the way in which; individuals will label Cassandra all the pieces from an avenger to a psychopath, however the actuality is the character can’t be positioned right into a field, very similar to this movie is unimaginable to categorize in a single singular style. It must be seen, each for its topicality and daring decisions.


Flickering Delusion Score – Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

“For those who or somebody you realize has been affected by sexual violence, you aren’t alone. You possibly can contact the Nationwide Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE or It’s free, confidential, and obtainable 24/7 in English and Spanish.”

Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Movie Critics Affiliation and the Critics Selection Affiliation. He’s additionally the Flickering Delusion Opinions Editor. Test right here for brand new evaluations, comply with my Twitter or Letterboxd, or e-mail me at [email protected]


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