Promising Young Woman

Promising Young Woman ★★★★

[Content warning for brief references to self-harm and sexual assault.]

“I cannot begin to tell you how much I’ve thought about it.”

Sometimes, our fantasies are self-destructive. There’s wanting to show those who wronged you how strong you’ve become, but there’s also the desire to show them just how deep your wounds still bleed. For Cassandra, it’s always the latter. She feels a sense of relief in scaring people straight, but she does it by making herself incredibly vulnerable. She invents dangerous situations for the sake of the greater good, discarding her own peace as collateral damage. Anger has a hold on her each and every day of her life. Her cause is a noble one, despite its morally ambiguous pursuit. Still, success for Cassandra always involves some degree of pain. So few sexual assault victims and survivors see true justice, and Cassandra is a sponge to all that unresolved rage. It pulses through her, and it breaks her down just as it propels her forward.

While there’s a separate discussion that could be had about how accurately the marketing of the film represents it, I feel the tone it’s able to strike is highly impressive. It’s very cleverly constructed — fairly accessible and entertaining despite its darkness. Nearly every scene relates to assault in some capacity, yet there are still moments of genuine ease and humor despite it all. It’s not an overall upsetting watch at all, but the heaviness of it is something I felt throughout. Admittedly, there are too many scenes in succession that consist of too-similar of beats, leading to a lessening impact throughout the second act. Thankfully, the third act is a major reset, and one that completely pulled me back in. Many viewers won’t be satisfied with how this story ultimately unfolds, but I find it to be the most honest resolution for this strange, dark tale. Cassandra neglects the healthy choice for the one she needs to make.

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