By Mark Saldana
Rating: 4 (Out of 4 Stars)
If looking for something completely different this holiday season, or if one would simply much rather avoid anything holiday-related, look no further because Promising Young Woman might be the right film for you. Now, this type of movie probably won’t appeal to everyone. It is a darkly comedic movie that deals with abuse, rape and the even more tragic impact this trauma can have on a person. I know that this sounds a bit too heavy for a comedy, but writer/director Emerald Fennell has managed to pull it off quite masterfully. It is a wickedly funny and delightful revenge fantasy that is sure to please anyone who has been a victim of any kind of abuse.
Carey Mulligan stars as Cassie, a woman driven to avenge the tragic death of a friend who has committed suicide after being raped in medical school. Cassie has since dropped out and spends her days working at a coffee shop. However, she spends her nights pretending to be drunk, so that male predators can easily target her. As they begin to cross a certain line, that is when Cassie strikes back.
Though Cassie feels some vindication through her nocturnal activities, she has yet to seek revenge on the ones responsible for her friend’s abuse and suicide. Well, she gets the opportunity of a lifetime, when she runs into an old acquaintance from medical school, Dr. Ryan Cooper (Bo Burnham). While the both Cassie and Ryan share an undeniable attraction and attempt to date, she also discovers that the man mainly responsible for her friend’s attack will be celebrating a bachelor party. It is finally the opportunity for which Cassie has been waiting for so long.
As I stated above, writer/director Emerald Fennell has written and crafted an amazing film with Promising Young Woman. Though the movie deals with some dark and heavy thematic material, she manages to make the experience thoroughly entertaining while being compelling and riveting, all at the same time. With this film, Fennell delivers a razor sharp commentary on abuse and the shocking ways people are way too accepting or forgiving of this horrible behavior. People can be way too self-involved and are, therefore, too willing to look the other way. Fennell strikes hard against these toxic attitudes and does so with much fury.
Personifying this anger and fury is the wonderful Carey Mulligan, who shines brightly and beautifully as Cassie, a woman who is mad as hell and is not going to take it anymore. Mulligan does an exceptional job with the character by reflecting the many layers of her personality. She may be bold, strong, driven, and vindictive, but she also reflects Cassie’s sad, heartbroken, and fearful side. It really is a tremendous performance that deserves much attention and some love from the various awards committees.
And I also feel just as strongly about Emerald Fennell’s script. I believe her blend of heartbreak, pain, but also wickedly funny vindication deserves much love and attention from the various film awards. Promising Young Woman may not be the typical holiday fare one would watch during the season, but that’s when they chose to release it. It is a movie I must strongly recommend.