How many times have you used or heard the phrase “Promising Young Woman” in conversation about the woman that people hold expectations for?
Written and directed by the English filmmaker Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman causes you to stop and think about the pressure that this phrase delivers. This movie examines what happens when trauma is not properly dealt with and how dangerous lingering effects can be.
Carey Mulligan (Cassie or Cassandra), leads two lives. During the day, the med school drop out works at a coffee shop owned by friend Laverne Cox (Gail) and lives at home with her parents. At night, she’s the ultimate party girl where picking up strangers seems to be her vice. Night after night, she appears to be drunk and on the verge of passing out. Unfailingly, a man comes by to rescue the helpless damsel in distress. Takes her home and offers her more drinks or drugs, and hopes she passes out. At some point she becomes fully aware of what is happening before the men can do any harm, and chastises them as if this stunt will teach them a lesson.
Honestly, after this played out I contemplated watching something else. It seemed to be a familiar story line and not something that would hold my attention. Would this be another movie that shows the “wrong” of woman who liked to drink and party?
Like a roller coaster, this movie had reached the top and the drop was not what I expected. I found myself laughing and one point screaming at the screen as I held back a few tears.
Cassie was on a spiraling path of self-destruction until she thought she found love. Here former classmate, Bo Burnham (Ryan), enters the coffee shop and a relationship ensues. He remembers Cassie as a high achieving medical student and the details start to unfold to tell us why she quit.
We see the relationship start to blossom but she can't shake the trauma from the past. As names start to surface, she realizes that love is not enough to change her path of destruction. Her attempt at getting officials to acknowledge their wrong proved futile so with a journal of names in hand the plan begins again.
The plan is what has you on the edge of your seat just beware that you might feel guilty cheering for some of her tactics. This plan is about revenge and making certain that no one forgets why.
The movie flips between violent, sex and comedy but I had no problems watching with my teenage son. In fact, it was a great lesson for what not to do as he prepares to finish his senior year in high school. I let him lead a large portion of the conversation and was so pleased that he pointed out things that were a red flag before I could.
It is hard to unsee the #MeToo instances and how they still exist today where people want to relate these crimes against women to age and dress as oppose to supporting the victim.
Focus Features has partnered with RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network) If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, you are not alone. You can contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE or online.rainn.org. It's free, confidential, and available 24/7 in English and Spanish.
Promising Young Woman is available for streaming now.
Director/Writer: Emerald Fennell
Producers: Margot Robbie, Josey McNamara, Tom Ackerley, Ben Browning, Ashley Fox, Emerald Fennell
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Connie Britton, Adam Brody, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox, Max Greenfield, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chris Lowell, Sam Richardson, Molly Shannon, Clancy Brown.
Running Time: 113 minutes
MPAA Rating: R