Promising Young Woman was one of my most anticipated films of 2020 and now it is one of my favorites as well. From the trailer and opening scene this film has the audience rooting for revenge. We’ve all heard the accusations and the horrible acts men have committed on women. Especially with the ‘me too’ movement these have become even more prevalent. Cancel culture follows celebrities like Bill Cosby and Louis C. K. when their crimes and disgusting manners are revealed to the world.
In Promising Young Woman, Carey Mulligan (The Great Gatsby, Drive) plays Casandra, a former medical student who is dealing with a traumatic event that happened in her past. She spends her nights pretending to be drunk in various clubs and bars, waiting for men to inevitably pick her up and attempt to have their way with her. She seeks revenge on everyone who has a distorted view on rape and sexual assault. Being a male myself, there were lines from the film and trailer that really stuck with me. In one conversation a man in the movie says “It’s every guy’s worst nightmare to be accused like this.” Casandra responds, “Do you know what every woman’s worst nightmare is?”
The plot for this film is completely unpredictable. Just as you think you’ve figured out where things are going to go with Casandra, things seem to make a hard right turn. It was refreshing to see a film with such a strong female voice and have a message that is so relevant. Promising Young Woman drags a small amount in the middle but only because you want revenge for her character so badly. For most of the film the audience is trying to put together the puzzle that is Cassandra’s past and to figure out why she is doing these things. The last act of the film is one of the best I’ve seen all year. It is truly shocking and leaves the audience thinking even into the next day. Promising Young Woman has gumption and is not afraid to go to bold places to drive it’s point home!
Promising Young Woman has a cast that oozes with talent. Not only does it star Carey Mulligan (an Oscar nominated actress and star of some of my favorite films), but it also features Bo Burnham (The Big Sick and director/Writer of Eighth Grade), Alison Brie (GLOW, Community, The Post) Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2, Magnolia) and so many more. All of the performances were emotional and outstanding. The competition is tough but I wouldn’t be surprised if the film got some acting nominations during the upcoming awards season. Emerald Fanell hits it out of the park with this feature directorial debut. Not only are the performances visceral but the atmosphere of the film in general is outstanding. The cinematography does a great job of lingering on uncomfortable scenes to make you squirm and raise the tension. The violent string-based score makes the film even more jarring and the cover of Toxic is absolutely perfect. Some of the film is reminiscent of Hard Candy but most of it is so unique it’s difficult to compare to anything else.
Promising Young Woman does a great job of taking the issue of rape and sexual assault and putting it front and center. It gives the issue perspective and forces you to stare its consequences in the face. As a man, watching this film was probably powerful in a different way. Most of the men in the movie are obviously portrayed in a bad light, but for a good reason. Most of those men also claim to be “nice guys”, like I do. The film forces men to not only check themselves but their friends as well. Promising Young Woman is not only an outstanding thriller, but it’s message is important, especially in our present society. This movie is one of the best films of 2020 and I strongly recommend it for everyone.
Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 Stars