I’m behind when it comes to watching mainstream movies, but I finally watched the drama thriller, Promising Young Woman. Many have claimed that this is the best film of the year, and now I know that they’re not wrong. It was phenomenal, and I can see why everyone is raving about it.
Promising Young Woman is the feature film directorial debut of groundbreaking Filmmaker/Actress Emerald Fennell (Killing Eve, The Crown). She also wrote this twisted and suspenseful story. The film stars Academy Award nominee Carey Mulligan (An Education, Drive) alongside Bo Burnham (Eighth Grade, The Big Sick), Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black, Bad Hair), Clancy Brown (Pet Sematary 2, The Mortuary Collection), and Jennifer Coolidge (Legally Blonde, A Cinderella Story).
Synopsis for Promising Young Woman
Everyone said Cassie (Mulligan) was a promising young woman…until a mysterious event abruptly derailed her future. But nothing in Cassie’s life is what it appears to be: she’s wickedly smart, tantalizingly cunning, and she’s living a secret double life by night. Now, an unexpected encounter is about to give Cassie a chance to right the wrongs of the past in this thrilling and wildly entertaining story.
Although I wouldn’t call Promising Young Woman earth-shattering (as there are many films out there already like this that are less mainstream), it is, hands down, masterful filmmaking and a must-watch experience that will rattle you to your core. It’s an unapologetic and uncomfortably realistic look at female empowerment, rape culture, the social justice system, and how easy it is for others to look away unless forced to listen.
“Ya know, they put themselves in danger… girls like that. If she’s not careful, someone’s going to take advantage.”
This film left me with a rollercoaster of emotions. As a woman who has my own #metoo story and trauma, Promising Young Woman hit very close to home. At first, the film feels empowering. Vengeance is always bittersweet, and the way Cassandra (Mulligan) goes about it was cut-throat, and she doesn’t hold back. The sad thing is that some may think that she goes too far, but the truth hurts, and it’s time to face it. This film is about what an ordinary girl might do in a situation like this. She wants others to feel just an ounce of what it’s like to experience the uncertainty, embarrassment, and fear of being a woman: no matter how we dress, how much we had to drink, or whether our word is enough. And as soon as she lets her guard down, she proves once again that we never should, or more realistically… we never can.
I could also feel myself shaking and becoming angered because they portrayed everything so accurately. I’ve heard those words. Other women have heard those words. It also sheds light on a huge topic that people seem to struggle with despite history proving it over and over again: just because someone is a good person it doesn’t mean they haven’t done bad things.
“What would you have me do, ruin a young man’s life?”
Carey Mulligan’s performance is extraordinary and deserves all the praise. This film wouldn’t be the same without her. From the very beginning, I knew her character had a mission and was willing to do anything to make that happen. I’ve seen that look in someone’s eyes before… that hopelessness. Not only is her character trying to seek out justice for her friend but for every woman who has gone through rape, abuse, and the tragedy of no one believing them. When she loses her friend, she loses herself and who she is, and then finds her own form of therapy to cope. I love how any time she goes out, she always has a different look and style, proving that it doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like, or what you wearing… anyone can be a victim.
“I guess you just had to think about it the right way!”
One of my favorite things about this film is that it doesn’t focus or linger on any rape scenes as many films do when telling a story like this. It just gives a glimpse into what happened but never reveals too much. Rape is traumatizing enough without having to relive it. Hearing the story should be enough. Instead, this film focuses on accountability and how no one is ready to take any unless their hands are tied behind their back with nowhere to run. Most of the time, it seems as if people decide whether or not to do horrendous acts based on whether or not they can get away with them and how it will impact their life versus how it will effect the person they’re doing it to. And if they got away with it once, why not do it again?
“Sometimes, gentleman are the worse!”
The soundtrack for this film is exceptional and really helps deliver a lighter tone to the dark comedy aspect of the story. Along with this, the bonus features for Promising Young Woman are phenomenal. I especially loved hearing about the inspiration behind the film and the vision the director had for it. The features include:
- A Promising Vision – Writer/Director Emerald Fennell discusses her inspirations for writing this bold, genre-bending film.
- Two-Sided Transformation – A look at why Carey Mulligan was the perfect choice to play “Cassie” and how filmmakers used wardrobe, hair, and makeup to express the balance between light and dark.
- Balancing Act – Cast members discuss their unexpected reactions to the careful balance of levity and tragedy in director Emerald Fennell’s take on female revenge.
- Feature Commentary with Writer/Director Emerald Fennell
As you can see, Promising Young Woman has had a huge impact on me. I’m still unboxing everything this film had to offer. I hope that some will find peace from this story and realize that they’re not alone. I also hope others will find the story an eye-opening experience and learn from it. Promising Young Woman is now available to own on Digital on March 2, 2021, and Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand on March 16, 2021, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.