Promising Young Woman

Promising Young Woman ★★

I don't know about you, but there's something so unbelievably cruel about a rape-revenge movie that lulls you into a false sense of security before pulling the rug out from underneath you, leaving you cold and helpless just so it can surprise you with one final twist. And yes, I get that may have been the entire point, but maybe think a little more carefully about the problems that arise from mixing pulpy revenge tropes into a story about trauma and self-destruction. Had this actually decided to be one or the other, Promising Young Woman might have been more worthwhile as another voice in the #MeToo pantheon.

This is shame because I was pretty on board with what Emerald Fennell cooks up until that dreadful finale. Much of what goes on here emotionally is quite charming, even when Carey Mulligan's character enacts her devious scheme in between her cuter escapades with Bo Burnham's character. It all reads as a genuine statement on the futility of revenge and coming to terms with trauma, which is indeed quite unique for something this thorny. But no, it's a revenge thriller, so of course it sacrifices all that to get to an ill-conceived "Girl-Boss" zinger. I give it points for being provocative enough to generate some kind of discussion about rape culture (plus Mulligan and Burnham are terrific), but in the end, it doesn't quite work the way it wants to.

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