Promising Young Woman (2020)

Premiered January 25, 2020

Hey guys, don’t rape blackout drunk women. Or, you know, rape at all. Or be a support system for rapists.

Cassie (Mulligan) spends her evenings pretending to be shitfaced so men take her home and take advantage of her. Then, she turns the tables on them. At heart, It’s a revenge film with a new twist. A lot as been said about the movie and it’s certainly a movie most people need to see to spark discussion. So, I don’t want to say too much. I like how visually, the film subverts the male gaze. Hollywood is built on the male gaze. It takes a shot or scene and goes in different directions than what you usually expect from film. There are tropes. The sassy black friend. The one nice guy in a sea of creeps. A too tidy ending.

While The One Nice Guy (Burnam) is needed in the film, both logically and emotionally, there are blind spots in the character’s memory, especially given how much he crushed on Mulligan’s character in the past. Tonally, it was both a relief and weird addition to the film. I mean, there’s a falling-in-love montage to a Paris Hilton song. And Jennifer Coolidge is a brunette and shows no cleavage. So, obviously, a drama. Way to go, movie, subverting Coolidge’s well-crafted image of a blonde bimbo.

The A-List cast of mostly TV actors succeed in bringing to life the slippery and morally ambiguous characters. Carey Mulligan should get an Oscar nod for an amazingly complex performance. I’d describe her actions as both wrong and fair. She gives the people she goes after a chance to repent. I mean, if John Wick can kill a thousand dudes over the death of his puppy, Cassie’s motivation and actions are downright angelic.

My friend Hersh always says most people have justifications for their poor actions, both before and after the act, and this movie certainly hammers that home. Even Cassie says she’s sick of hearing men justify their actions by saying, “We were just kids.”

Rape has been generally underserved topic in mainstream pictures and this film does take a new approach. They never actually show rape, although rape is the blanket that covers the film. The film expands what is generally considered rape in the movie. And that’s where the discussion begins.

On a side note, everyone should see the 2002 film Irreversible. It’s definitely a hard watch and I’ll never watch it again because, Jesus ‘Effin Christ, that 15-minute rape scene is brutal.