Promising Young Woman

Promising Young Woman ★★★★

“You should be the one with her name all over you”.

This is the first film I’ve seen in theaters in a while and it wholly surpassed my expectations. Promising Young Woman isn’t really the type of film to gloss over- it prides itself on its ability to bare it all. I thought I was going to plunge headfirst into a miscellany of dark comedy and thriller aspects but the latter was somewhat diluted. The prelude leads you to believe that the plot centers around a vindictive killing spree of some sort, but it veers away from this. By far, the constant shift in tone is probably the most conflictive element of the movie for me.

I have no reservations, however, when it comes to the color palette and composition used. The pastel hues that surround Cassie are so glaringly predominant that they call for a bit of scrutiny. Her nails, the walls of the cafe where she works at- it all comes across as innocent  and delicate. The scene cuts, and we see her in a flimsy getup in the pursuit of retaining the male gaze; reduced to nothing more than a object, if you will. No one is appeased by anything that Cassie does. She’s either ridiculously provocative or not “loose enough”, and in her professional life, she's reached the point of burnout. Just as we are trying to unveil the deeper meaning to her escapades, the classic “boy meets girl” storyline intervenes and becomes the central focus. I will say, I did enjoy these moments because of the wit and chemistry of Mulligan and Burnham.

While I do not think that she is a commendable person because of the choices she makes, I will say that her cynicism does not come from an entirely unhinged state of mind. She is not meant to be emulated but can rather be interpreted as a flawed protagonist with grit in the face of injustice. In the grand scheme of things, the pent-up frustration is at the very least understandable. I feel as if this movie is less about her and more about the men in question and the people who enable them. 

Now we get to the good part. The third act is what prompted me to give it the rating that I did. It is then that the film finally breaks through and takes on a distinguishing trait. Thankfully, this coup de grâce is distracting enough to draw attention away from the bizarre  and unnecessary scene[s] shown earlier on (yes, I am specifically referring to when she commits vandalism and gets away with it). Woman moment!

In the end, the true intentions of certain characters are revealed and we realize that this disappointing ending is an tragic reality for many. Cassie goes through desperate measures to prove something that should have been dealt with from the beginning. I think that the brilliance of Promising Young Woman swells as one takes the time to contemplate the events that took place and disregard the recurring “tough girl” trope. I can fully see this film stirring up interesting conversations as well as some run-of-the-mill controversy.

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