Promising Young Woman
Directed by Emerald Fennell
With her feature-length directorial debut, Promising Young Woman, Emerald Fennell has proven herself to be as talented a director as she is a writer ( Killing Eve) and actor ( The Crown, where she stars as the future Camilla Parker Bowles).
The film stars Carey Mulligan as
Cassie, who’s almost 30, still living at home and working at a coffee shop since dropping out of medical school a few years earlier due to a tragedy involving her best friend, Nina. Cassie has taken to going to bars and pretending to be blackout drunk to teach lessons to the ‘nice guys’ who inevitably emerge and try to take advantage of her. Between balancing her work and bar trips, Cassie starts dating Ryan (Bo Burnham), a former med school classmate. As their relationship begins to develop, Cassie starts to question her position in life, and whether or not she should commit more seriously to this man who has set himself apart from all the other creeps she’s come across.
Fennell has created a compelling film that exposes all the rhetoric and clichés sexual assault survivors are confronted with when telling their stories. The men Cassie confronts, and those she questions about her friend’s tragedy, all come up with petty excuses that attempt to justify and protect their actions while dismissing the claims of the actual victim. Fennell surrounds Cassie with characters that fail to hold themselves and others accountable, who selfishly choose ignorance instead of facing the painful and uncomfortable reality.
It’s accentuated by excellent casting that causes the audience to pause and reflect on how they make snap judgements about these ‘good guys.’ Adam Brody (best known as The O.C.’ s Seth Cohen) and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (a.k.a. McLovin from Superbad) both play characters that fail Cassie’s drunk-girl-at-the-bar test. Both actors are tied to their non-threatening and unassuming breakout roles, making for a compelling juxtaposition. Carey Mulligan also serves as an outstanding choice to play the lead, in a sharp contrast to her soft-spoken roles in Shame, Drive and An Education. Here, she is anything but.
Fennell identifies that the problem lies with those who have failed to understand the #MeToo movement: the men who victimize themselves and fail to take accountability, and the people in positions of power who fail to take action because of the possible repercussions. Promising Young Woman hits the nail on the head in a compelling way. (Focus)