Pushing thirty, and defined by a hideous crime involving her bosom friend, Nina, emotionally scarred medical school dropout, Cassie, knows firsthand that some wounds never heal. Leading an uneventful existence, still living with her parents, waiting tables at a cheap coffee shop to earn a living, Cassie has found the perfect way to deal with the painful past. Dressed to kill, at night, Cassie frequents the local bars and nightclubs, pretending to be dead-drunk, utterly helpless and vulnerable. And, every week, lethally beautiful Cassie is on the prowl for all sorts of nocturnal predators and other wolves in sheep's clothing, who are unaware that, sometimes, the hunter can become the prey. Then, Ryan, a kindly and caring old classmate who is the bee's knees, enters the picture, and just like that, Cassie wants out. However, everybody knows that breaking bad habits is easier said than done. Could Ryan be the one?Written by
The words "rape" and "sexual assault" are not spoken in the film. See more »
Carey Mulligan has a noticeable and distinct mole on the left side of her face, next to her lips. Around the 1 hour 5 minute mark, when Mulligan's and Burnham's characters get back together in the coffee shop, it is apparent that the image is reversed, as the mole now appears on the right side of her face. See more »
Look how easy that was. I guess you just had to think about it in the right way. I guess it feels different when it's someone you love.
See more »
The copyright date appears twice, once during the opening credits as "MMXX" and once during the closing credits as "2020." See more »
Not for Everyone, but there's a lot of fun to be had
Promising Young Woman is a film that I admire for its ambition more so than its execution. Clearly aping the style of 70s exploitation thrillers, Promising Young Woman tells the story of Cassie, a 30 year old woman working at a coffee shop, living with her parents, who doubles as a vigilante of sorts. At night, she goes out and plays drunk to lure predatory men to take her back to their apartment. Once there, she flips the switch and lectures them about consent, scaring them to check their behavior.
As I said, this is clearly aping the style of films like Death Wish, both in visual style and story., while also serving as a commentary on those types of films. The film feels like it doesn't fully have the budget to accomplish what it really wants at times, and pulls its punches a lot. The moments that really work are the moments where it leans into its genre full heartedly and has fun with the tropes. Carey Mulligan is incredible as Cassie, and surprisingly Bo Burnham is pretty convincing as Ryan. The supporting cast ranges, but Alfred Molina and Allison Brie are standouts to me.
The tone is inconsistent, and the film works best when it plays it straight down the barrel. Each scene has an almost mini twist which at first is really entertaining, but it begins to make the pay off a little less impactful as it goes on. The scenes where the guys (Christopher Mintz-Plasse is the worst offender of this) overact and play their jokes up really deflate the final joke of the film.
I feel like the reaction to the film (and maybe the intention behind making it as well) are going to be more the opposite of what I enjoyed from the film. The character of Cassie gets a lot of big, preachy, moments where she gets to spout some topical buzz words and while Carey Mulligan elevates that material, it doesn't change the fact that they have all the nuance and subtlety of your best middle school debate team.
With that said, Emerald Fennell is a very clever writer. Cassie embodies a righteous fury, but most of the characters are right about her. She is kind of a loser. She's 30 years old, still working at a coffee shop, living with her parents, and having no friends. Her obsession with revenge is ruining her life, and maybe it would be best for everyone if she moved on. The movie actually seems to be headed towards a strangely nuanced resolution, but then... I'm not going to spoil the ending because honestly, the real fun of the movie is letting it unravel in front of you, but there are two final twists of the knife. One of them I went with because it was needed to satisfy the genre. The other was a bit pitchy for me, dog.
So it's a mixed bag. I feel like the first two thirds of the film are better than the final act. Some of the performances are really good, but some of them are cartoonish and boorish. The film has a lot of visual style, but doesn't have the resources to fully execute that vision. The script is good, but not as nuanced as it might have needed to be. I mean, what I will say is that it has provoked more thought in me than most other films of 2020, and for better or worse it is one of the more complete films of that year as well.
13 of 20 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this