Promising Young Woman

Emerald Fennell, USA, 2020

It’s the Oscars tonight. This film is up for a few awards, so here’s what I thought of it after seeing it last week.

First things first, Carey Mulligan is great. She manoeuvres with deft complexity between damaged psychopath, kick-ass angel of vengeance, fragile trauma survivor, and sweet girl-next-door.

The story is important and contemporary, coming off the back of the #MeToo and Everyday Sexism movements. Mulligan is Cassandra, whose best friend’s life is destroyed after an incident of drunken and public gang rape at university. It is fresh to see those complicit in horrific acts of careless misogyny and sexual violence getting their comeuppance. I was cheering her on, and some of the scenes were sharp and funny.

But all-in-all, I felt it lacked depth. It’s weak in the middle, where it drags and gets (deliberately) saccharine. Most of the characters are two-dimensional archetypes. The directing is conventional. And some of the acting was terrible!

There are far better revenge films in cinema’s canon (Oldboy, Kill Bill… even 9 to 5 if you’re less inclined to the dark and violent!). So good luck PYW – quite forgettable and very much of its time, but I wish it well.

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