*tw* mention of sexual assault/rape
“I’m a nice guy,”
“They put themselves in danger, girls like that,”
“What would you have me do? Ruin a young man’s life every time an accusation is made,”
“It’s every guy’s worst nightmare, getting accused like that.”
Promising Young Woman is an empowering film that goes straight for the jugular of those who victim-blame turning the attention onto the men who take advantage of vulnerable or drunk women and those who enable those situations to take place and go without punishment.
Promising Young Woman is written and directed by Emerald Fennell and stars; Carey Mulligan as Cassandra (Cassie), Bo Burnham as Ryan, and Alison Brie as Madison. The film follows the life of Cassie, who lives a double life, working at a coffee shop during the day, and spending the nights lingering in bars pretending to be drunk to entice men to prey upon her before switching back to her sober self to make the man think twice before he brings another drunk girl to his apartment. The reason? Her best friend Nina (who at the time of the film is now deceased) was raped in college and her rapist received no punishment because “Nina was too drunk to remember.” But things change when, Ryan who accompanied both Nina and Cassandra in Medical School stops into the coffee shop Cassandra works at and starts sharing updates on their fellow students, including Nina’s rapist, leading Cassie on her trail of justice.
Right from the start of Promising Young Woman you are sent full speed off on a rollercoaster of shocks, terrors, smiles, and laughs. Each moment is seemingly equally unexpected, leaving my jaw on the floor for most of the film, and asking “What just happened?” at the end of nearly every scene. But, this isn’t a bad thing and only adds to the overall thrill of the film, forcing the watcher to hang on the edge of their seats trying to figure out what will happen next. Each surprise sent shivers down my spine, and trust me, even when you think you know what's going to happen next, you don’t.
Promising Young Woman isn’t simply a thriller but rides on the trail of the #Metoo movement sharing an important message about rape and victim-blaming with a smidge of revenge at every turn. This film calls out not only the men who rape vulnerable women, but those who enable their behavior, defend them in court, and blame their victims with a stone-cold seriousness that makes the characters within the film and viewers alike change their perspective.
Overall, Promising Young Woman is a must-watch. It not only had me completely engaged throughout the entire movie, but had me thinking about each of the scenes for hours after, and eventually rewatching it just three hours after finishing the first run. The film empowered me, making me want to jump up on a table and explain everything I was feeling to anyone who would listen. And once the film was over, I truly couldn't decide if I wanted to be just like Cassie, or if I actually wanted to be her as she fulfills the feminist revenge story every woman silently longs for.
Image Credit: Promising Young Woman Poster, IMDB