Divisive and necessary, Promising Young Woman is a rollercoaster ride full of humor, jaw dropping moments and a twist that still has me traumatized days later. A message that absolutely needs to be told but one that will surely be attacked by toxic masculinity and machismo as the film does not try to soften the blow it deals to the male ego. The message: all men are a problem.
Traumatized by an event from her past, Cassandra dropped out of med-school where she was once top of her class. Having never been able to overcome it she begins seeking vengeance years later on those responsible for that tragic event.
Admittedly, I found myself both completely put off and enamored by Carey Mulligan’s portrayal of our heroine. She transformed into another person proving, once again, what an incredibly talented actor she is. Bo Burnham, another highlight, is becoming such a multi-faceted artist as he has already shown a proficiency for comedy, music, writing, directing, and now acting.
The true force of nature here is our writer/director Emerald Fennell who has, like many others, had to wait patiently for her incredible film to release in pecarious 2020. Being her feature directorial debut she shows great promise as well as wonderful bravery in telling this alienating narrative. No lie, I have some qualms with the film, mainly the relentlessly unforgiving depiction of the male species and the brutal twist that rocked me to my core. However, if I’m being honest, the things I would want to change would make the film far less effective than the poduct Fennell has delivered here. As a man I found myself evaluating my life thus far in the hopes of finding confirmation of the film’s most common statement through self-reflection… “I’m a good guy”. Afterwhich I can’t help but picture Cass lookng at me and asking skeptically “Are you?”.
So men, after watching you could do one of two things, one of which men have historically been terrible at; you could go into a fit of rage, cursing the existence of this film to whoever will listen, OR you could take an honest approach to internalizing the question so beautifully presented. Are you a good guy? Have you been? Can you be…?(8/10)