Promising Young Woman

Promising Young Woman ★★★★

While tonally worlds apart, like Autumn de Wilde with Emma., this is a 2020 feature film directing debut offering a fresh take on a classic concept and a bright, bold design scheme where nearly every frame pops off the screen. Regardless of the all-too easy implication the film seems to make that all men (except maybe fathers) are scum, I think it's terribly interesting that in this subversion of the rape revenge film, Carey Mulligan with a richly complex performance as Cassie seemingly has a fairly normal moral compass only twisted a bit out of the grief and trauma she has been sinking in for years and can't or doesn't want to escape from. Nevertheless, her actions make for an incredibly dark and uncomfortable film but not without significant moments of humor. And while Cassie may not be a vicious psychopathic killer, blinded by rage, that doesn't mean her actions aren't incredibly disturbing.

Emerald Fennell smartly demonstrates it's far more important to understand Cassie's trauma and her need to overcome it than to cheer at the so-called "nice guys" getting what's coming to them. Those lessons are a mere byproduct of Cassie's emotional state. She's not a hero in that sense. Yes, she may very well save another woman or girl from something terrible happening to them, but do the ends always justify the means? Do we have the right to enact justice on our own terms? The reality is Cassie is a broken woman, trapped in her isolation and misery, unable to connect with others, not even her own parents, trying to undo what can't be undone in her own past. In fact, we as the audience are most happy and hopeful when she's finding light at the end of the tunnel, finding joy rather than the need to endlessly enact vengeance.

People need connection, people they can trust, people who care about them and will get them the help they need. Safety. Security. Isolation combined with grief, trauma, and betrayal is an explosive combination that can easily lead to a downward spiral of callousness, carelessness, and destructive behavior. And on the other side, this world needs far more people who hold others in the utmost respect, who refuse to take advantage of others and recognize their dignity as image bearers of God.

Watched on Universal Studios Blu-ray