Emerald Fennell’s pitch black directorial debut, Promising Young Woman, solely places the viewers who see it into the following groups: those who hate women and those who don’t, those who believe that sexual assault is a real problem around the world, and those who prefer to blame the victim and make excuses for the behavior of sexual predators.
This film has been rightly labeled as a wake up call, while those of lesser intelligence have slammed it as fodder for the #MeToo movement.
It’s funny how certain works of art can trigger responses in people that reveal who they really are underneath.
Sure, there are those who will not like the film for the simple and pure fact that this particular work of art did not work for them. And that’s understandable, as all art is subjective. And so they are excluded from my bubble of vitriol.
In this film, Casey Mulligan plays a woman named Cassandra, who loves at home with her parents, has a meagre job at a tiny coffee shop, and who is haunted by the tragic suicide of her best friend, Nina, who was gang-raped while they were both students in med school.
And so Cassandra spends her nights going to clubs and pretending to be drunk, in order to lure certain “nice guys” into picking her up and taking her back to their place. She waits until just the right time to reveal that she’s sober, scaring these men shitless and shaming them for their blatant toxicity.
When one of her old colleagues shows up at the coffee shop, the two begin a careful and cutesy romance, and in the process, she finds out that the man who raped Nina is to be married soon.
This sets off a sequence of events that send Cassandra on a journey to confront the people that she feels are responsible for the circumstances leading to her friend’s demise. It is during these scenes, especially, that Emerald Fennell’s script cuts the deepest. This is an angry film – unapologetically so – placing its hooks directly into the audience, dragging the worst tendencies of the far-right back into the mud with fury and glee.
It all leads to one of the most powerful endings that I’ve seen in quite a while. I’m still thinking about it.
And I’m still fuming over the fact that this film had to be made in the first place. Thank God for it. I’m glad that it exists. I wish that it didn’t have to. But it’s 2020. This is the world that we live in. And this is the Christmas gift that America deserves right now. Some of you more than others, namely every man or woman who ever took the side of the Brock Turner’s and Brett Kavanaugh’s of the world while shaming the victims who have forever been scarred. For every man or woman that ever turned their heads when they knew damn well that evil was happening all around them. For every man or woman that ever trivialized the feminist movement. You helped to fashion the toxic rape culture that makes films like this necessary. And so here it is, wrapped in a big red bow, right in time for the holidays.