Promising Young Woman ★★★½

There are a LOT of sociopolitical reasons for hating this movie, and that's totally fair given the subject matter. Concerns about the portrayal of victimhood, about the presumed faith in the justice system, about "revenge" genre assumptions and expectations, about tone, even about the very core concept as embodied by the title of the film. All of these are legitimate! The movie puts itself out there on the line and practically demands the kind of discourse that's surrounded it - and a lot of this discourse was enlightening to read in the wake of my viewing, from both positive and negative perspectives.

But as someone who figured I was in for a pulpy, vaguely feminist story about a mentally unhinged person spiraling down a dark path... I got pretty much exactly what I was expecting, and then some. I don't think Carey Mulligan is portraying someone we're supposed to see as ideal (victim or hero) in any capacity; this has more in common with Taxi Driver than something like the recent (and excellent) Revenge. I do think she's doing an incredible job with the material, effortlessly hypnotizing with her sidewinding journey into the abyss. There's a lot of fun packed into this movie, despite the subject matter, yet I felt myself agonizing along with her and especially those who loved her, as her choices piled up going into the final act.

It's a messy movie with an ending that'll make or break it depending on the individual viewer. But I'll take messy and bold over safe and anesthetized Hollywood fare any day. Director Emerald Fennell is someone I'll be keeping an eye on going forward, without a doubt.

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