Promising Young Woman – Carey Mulligan plots and schemes Vengeance from a Coffee shop
Promising Young Woman is a timely drama from Director Emerald Fennell and wears it’s ‘me too’ influence proudly on its sleeve. There is a section of society that may feel this is a ‘man bashing’ film but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It challenges the indoctrinated idea of victim blaming. If you went out and dressed provocatively and had such a good time, you drunk to the point of almost passing out. You would have left yourself vulnerable, but does that justify sexual assault? Would your answer be the same if it were a drunk man getting assaulted?
Carey Mulligan plays Cassandra, a once brilliant medical student who drops out following the tragic loss of her best friend Nina. Cassandra completely disconnects from the world and people as a whole. She isn’t free falling but more drifting aimlessly as this tragedy has stolen her faith in humanity, men in particular. She moves back home with her parents and works in a coffee shop for Gail played by Laverne Cox. Gail is her only real connection to the world and as close as she has to a confidant
Cassandra spends her nights frequenting clubs and bars where she pretends to be fall over drunk and waits for her next ‘victim’. A nice guy who comes over to see if she is ok and even help her get home, but they all inevitably attempt to take advantage of her. Just as they believe they are in control; Cassandra lets them know she isn’t really drunk and turns the tables round on them with vicious sometimes amusing results.
This is similar to the way podophile hunters operate, and your opinion on her tactics will either interpret this as entrapment or a predator takedown. She keeps note of all these guys in her journal with names she crosses out. It’s almost like Kill Bill without the blood, gore and violence
She discovers the shocking details of the sexual assault that led to her friend Nina’s death and sets out of a mission of revenge which takes her even further down the dark path. Promising Young Woman isn’t a perfect film but why do people keep looking for perfect films? Outside of cinematography, performances, story and design, films should make you think, question and most importantly feel and this film definitely hit all those notes for me. The fact that some still feel the question of consent around sex is confusing should mean this should bring up some interesting conversations.
The issue of sexual assault, violence against women and the devastation it leaves on women’s lives is still unfortunately prominent in society and like most evils, when we are quiet about them, they can fester and continue. So, for raising the conversation alone in such an engaging manner, Director Emerald Fennell should be commended.
Carey Mulligan manages to deliver a character that is witty, sarcastic, sinister, and sympathetic. Her performance is mostly nuanced and understated and her portrayal of a young lady not just sad but completely depressed and devoid of hope is great. Vengeance plots are one of my favourite types of movies. When a character takes their time to plan and prepare something sinister for those who deserve it always warms my heart!
I’m a firm believer that sometimes in life, karma needs a helping hand, and all good people must be prepared to help and occasionally get their hands dirty. This follows in the proud tradition of revenge movies like The Count of Monty Cristo (one of my childhood favourites) and with time this may be looked on with the similar reverence.
This movie aims for the moon and while it doesn’t always nail its landing, it definitely sits comfortably amongst the stars.
Promising Young Woman will be available this February. See the full trailer here