holli’s review published on Letterboxd:
(i'm sorry this review is so long i had a lot of thoughts)
hmm. don't really know how to rate this. i enjoyed parts of it for sure, but this film is very flawed. very, very flawed - both on a thematic and filmmaking level.
it's a complex film for sure, and i'm glad films about rape culture in this manner are finally being made. portrayals of "nice guys" as some of the most evil, manipulative predators have finally been brought to light in different media this year (see also: eliza hittman's never rarely sometimes always and michaela coel's hbo series i may destroy you). this is a truth known to all women: that most of the self proclaimed "nice guys" are just as terrifying as the men who don't hide that they're a predator. on one hand, i feel like this film will help some people recognize these underlying, less talked about aspects of rape culture that they might have been oblivious to. it will make them look twice at the "friendly" guy who's getting a little too friendly with a girl. but, the thing is, i already knew all this. it was telling me things i've lived through, and that every woman i know has gone through on some level. that's not a bad thing - these stories still need to be told - but this film didn't do anything groundbreaking or dig deep into what it was saying. i hate to compare the two, but i'm currently in the middle of i may destroy you, and, even though i already knew about most of the topics the show tackles, it did it in a way that felt genuinely captivating and groundbreaking in a way that i've never seen before. even that one scene in never rarely sometimes always - if you've seen it, you know the one - brought me to tears and made me feel heartbroken yet so seen in my experiences as a woman. i can't say the same about this film. everything is very surface level. i'm not sure who the audience is, because women already know all this, and a lot of us won't find any kind of catharsis within the film (particularly in the upsetting ending). i don't really think it was made for men or to educate them either, though. it's strange.
and, am i missing something? what am i missing? because i did not think this was that well made. the script started out super strong, i loved the first half especially, but it's kind of a mess as it goes on. the visual style - which i was looking forward to for it's bubblegum pink, red lipstick, femme fatale energy i got from the trailer - felt very dull, and a lot of the shots were just ugly (i'm probably in the minority on this opinion, though). some of the choices in direction work really well, others don't. it all kind of wears by the end.
carey mulligan gives one of the best (but not the best - watch wildlife, y'all!) performances of her career and is easily the best part of the film. she holds it together and is absolutely ravishing. everyone else? kinda sucks. except maybe laverne cox's five minutes of screentime and the first half of bo burnham's performance, everyone was pretty awful in my opinion. though part of me thinks maybe that was the point? not sure, i just couldn't take certain parts seriously.
this review is making it seem like i loathed this, but i didn't. i was entertained for most of it, and there were some really good scenes. i really enjoyed the first half, but, as i mentioned before, everything starts to wear off, and it doesn't really go deep into any of the themes it brings forward.
i'm just... confused. confused as to what i'm missing that everyone else saw in this. plus, even though i think everything was done with good intentions, there's definitely some muddled morality in the ending. i'm keeping an eye out on anyone (and by anyone i mean men) who found this ending to be happy or cathartic in any way. that's weird. you're weird. i don't think the ending was bad necessarily, but i think a lot of people will misinterpret it as a #girlboss moment when, in reality, it's very depressing.
i know this film, and the ending, will bring a lot of discourse, so i'm gonna end this review saying: everyone (men especially) please listen to what women and sexual assault survivors have to say about this film. don't brush them off because you like the pink aesthetics and carey mulligan. listen to different perspectives, please, and be civil.