PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN – Review by Susan Granger

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Do you remember – back in 2016 – when Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman? Despite having committed this heinous crime, the presiding Judge referred to him as a “promising young man.”

That obviously inspired debuting British writer/director/actress Emerald Fennell, who has created a female revenge #MeToo thriller that’s surprisingly peppered with comedy and utterly incongruous music.

Living at home with her parents and working as a coffee shop barista, 30 year-old Cassandra “Cassie” Thomas (Carey Mulligan) is a medical school dropout whom many called “a promising young woman.”

At night, Cassie roams the bar scene, pretending to be “drunk,” allowing herself to be picked up by “nice guy” predators whom she subsequently humiliates. Apparently, years earlier, her best-friend Nina was victimized by a privileged classmate whom the patriarchal system protected from prosecution.

When Cassie starts dating former classmate Ryan (Bo Burnham), now a pediatric surgeon, she discovers that Nina’s attacker is getting married. Plus, previously estranged fellow student Madison (Alison Brie) shows Cassie a repugnant video of Nina’s rape that she’s kept on her phone all these years.

So the stage is set for Cassie to wreak the vengeance she’s been contemplating for a long time.

Sucking strawberry licorice twists, Carey Mulligan cleverly plays against the stylized, candy-colored silliness of some of the anarchic scenes, mingling chilling suspense with strange satisfaction.

“I wanted to make a real revenge movie about a real woman, combining female rage and romance with heartbreak and horror,” states filmmaker Emerald Fennell, who is currently playing Camilla Parker-Bowles on “The Crown.”

As for Brock Turner, he was incarcerated for just 90 days, although he must register as a sex offender for life. His overly sympathetic California Judge Aaron Persky was subsequently disbarred. Now 24, Brock Turner is living with his parents near Dayton, Ohio, working at a factory for $12 @hour.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Promising Young Woman” is a slick, snarky, subversive 7. It’s a shocker!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Promising Young Woman is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for January 1, 2021

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.