PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN – Review by Susan Granger
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