Promising Young Woman

Promising Young Woman ★★★★

Carey Mulligan if you’re reading this if you could also please spit in my coffee, I would very much appreciate it, thank you.

Promising Young Woman has me very torn.
Mulligan and Burnham are absolutely stellar, I love the vibrant nature, intentions, and message of this film; after all who doesn’t love a good ol’ fashioned female rage/revenge story? The execution however, feels complicated.

My two main quarrels are in the writing and tone. Much of the writing feels noticeably unfinished; things like whether or not Cassandra is killing the men she preys on or why she never deals with the consequences of things like bashing someone’s windshield in? These questions regarding writing feel like they could’ve been answered if I understood the intended tone of this film.

On one hand this could be a campy sort of “alternate universe” where Cassandra has fully taken on the traditional role of a male protagonist who is untouchable and is never caught or punished, not unlike the patriarchal society’s many live under. On the other hand, however, there are one-too-many moments that feel like they are meant to be taken with extreme severity (one movement towards the end of the film particularly stands out). Serious moments in a film like this are not an issue of course, the issue is that the tone does not feel established enough to allow the audience to understand the real intentions of these plot points. Are they meant to be serious, shocking moments that re-iterate just how much women suffer? Or are they all just more satirical social commentary? It is possible that the intention was to mesh these two opposing tones together, but if that was Fennell’s intention I am sad to say I don’t think the ideal tonal balance is all there. I fell in love with the idea of this film, but after my first watch I’m unsure if the execution is as effective as I had hoped it would be. I will be rewatching Promising Young Woman very soon to see if I can gain some more perspective or clarity on these things. 

In the meantime, I will say that all things considered this is a wonderful directorial debut by Emerald Fennell, I really hope we get more films like this in the future, and I will continue to praise Carey Mulligan for her astounding performance in this role.

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