Promising Young Woman Review: A good mix of drama, thriller, and black comedy

Promising Young Woman

The film Promising Young Woman was released last week,  and was nominated for a Golden Globe this week. The film has a chance to win an award in four categories: Best Drama, Best Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Actress.

Probably, such a number of nominations will draw attention to the tape, but the impression of the audience on it will be very ambiguous.

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This is a film about revenge, or to be more precise, the events that awakened her. Unlike other films where retribution is achieved with the help of weapons, here the act of revenge begins with a sobering speech that unpleasantly reveals the true nature of “good guys”.

The main character of the film (played by actress Carey Mulligan, known for the films The Great Gatsby and Inside Llewyn Davis) has a secret that no one knows about in her environment. During the day, Cassandra leads a monotonous life, working in a small coffee shop, and in the evening the girl goes to clubs, pretending to be lonely and very drunk. Time after time there is someone who offers his help, in fact, wanting to take advantage of her unconscious state. It was then that Cassandra manifests herself, asking the same question – what is the man doing at this moment, knowing about her vulnerability. Cassandra had such an obsession with finding and shaming would-be rapists a few years ago when she dropped out of college and abandoned a promising medical career in the wake of the tragedy of a loved one. Maybe it’s time to leave it all behind.

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Interestingly, LuckyChap Entertainment, which belongs to actress Margot Robbie, became interested in the production of the film, so during the filming Robbie herself acted as one of the producers of the tape. The project was coined and directed by Emirald Fennell, who previously worked on the script for Killing Eve and also starred in the fourth season of The Crown , where Fennell played Camilla Parker Bowles.

In his directing work, Emirald Fennell visually hints that the film will provocatively balance on the brink of drama, thriller and black comedy, constantly returning to the problem of perceiving violent acts. The director points to the specific situations in which the girls find themselves, and in an ironic tone arranges an enlightenment lesson, laying simple truths in Carey Mulligan’s lines. It would seem that everyone should understand long ago that no circumstances justify sexual violence, but this has to be repeated over and over again, sometimes even several times.

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What is noticeably embarrassing in “Promising Girl” is the obsession with one type of negative characters, which Fennell very clearly and too simply brings to the surface. Even more alarming in the film is the character of Cassandra, who throughout history remains an ambiguous and rather repulsive person at times. The filmmakers focus on situations in which the rapists receive the benefit of the doubt (the scene with the college dean is one of the best in the film) and, unfortunately, rather quickly reveal the precarious state of the main character.

Cassandra’s character keeps a diary, childishly crossing out his “victims” and remaining indifferent to anything that can be called a normal life. In fact, behind everything she does and says, there is a trauma that was only suppressed, but not left in the past (which, for example, is evidenced by the everyday overly bright clothes of the heroine, which the team of costume designers selected so that the audience could see the hidden depression and unwillingness of the heroine to move on). However, few people pay attention to such details, the radical actions of the heroine and her irresistible craving for a moral assessment of other people’s actions, which Fennell is so keen on in the script, are much more remembered.

Alas, such a portrait of the main character will almost certainly make some viewers hate this film, missing the really important things. Unlike other dramas, which are a direct social statement, “Promising Girl” momentarily departs from unambiguous seriousness and is carried away by ironic censure, acceptable only to those who react with understanding to the heroine’s obsession.

Nevertheless, the film falls under the informational focus of recent years, to which filmmakers are actively paying attention, so it is not surprising that the film received four Golden Globe nominations, including the best screenplay category. Probably because Emirald Fennell succeeds in filming a moral setting outside the box and combining it with a dramatic performance consisting of several stages of unpredictable revenge.

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