Starring: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnahm, Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox, Connie Britton, Chris Lowell, Max Greenfield, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Molly Shannon.
Directed By: Emerald Fennell
Where I Watched it: HBO MAX
English Audio Description Available?: Yes
Narrated By: Inger Tudor
The Plot: A promising young woman (Mulligan) seeks vengeance on those who have set her on this path, but also on those who would seek to do the same harm to other unsuspecting victims. How far is she willing to go to make sure that those who owe their debt pay their pound of flesh?
What Works: What a film. I love films that spark thought and conversation in a good way, not like “Man, have you seen Kazan?” But real emotions being brought up, that lead to actual constructive thought, and the desire to have a discussion with others. And Promising young Woman does that in spades.
By taking on toxic masculinity, date rape culture, and those people who always keep telling women they are asking for it because they got drunk, or wore a short skirt, Promising young Woman really opens an interesting door. But by turning this into a quest for revenge, and setting our protagonist on a journey not just for herself, but for other women who might find themselves in a precarious place, as well as in memory of a friend of hers, we are given someone conflicting to root for. Do the ends justify the means? I think that’s the conversation many will want to have by the end of the film, and while the ending is quite sobering considering the tone, I would argue it just makes her that more compelling and her commitment that more true.
Carey Mulligan is straight fire in this role. She reminds me of a reinvented Lizabeth from the Dragon Tattoo series. She’s not as tattooed and pierced, but she’s on a very similar quest. Mulligan, who has spent many moments in her career playing versions of a damsel needing rescued in films like An Education and The Great Gatsby, needs no rescue here. It’s clear that she knows what she’s doing, she’s fearless, and smart as hell.
Surprisingly, Emerald Fennell assembled a brilliant cast of mostly tV stars and comedians, and made a heart pounding dark comedy that fires on all cylinders. It just keeps you interested and uncomfortable, not because of the subject matter, but because you never know what the scene is building to. She’s presented as the kind of person willing to do anything to further her quest for revenge, and the idea that things could go off the rails very fast is always in your mind.
What Doesn’t Work: I suppose, though it didn’t actually affect my enjoyment of the film or its final climax, there was a character we were supposed to believe was out of the realm of vengeance, and offered a contrast in the scenes. I could tell we’d be ending up right where we did, though maybe not the exact result. But, just because I didn’t trust that character doesn’t mean the whole thing didn’t work. i just knew this film was headed very much in a “burn the thing to the ground” direction, and the promise of a happy ending was just a lie.
The Blind perspective: Awesome audio description. Very small details that don’t even matter plot wise are brought to the forefront. At one point, we are told the color of gum. It has no bearing on anything specifically, but the idea that we deserve to know it’s blue, and not just your run of the mill bubble gum was a nice touch.
As far as necessity, once the film reveals its hand with where she’s headed with things, you know she’s always faking being drunk. So, when the film follows who is drinking, it also make sure to let us know how little to nothing she is consuming, reminding us she has her wits about her.
It’s really good audio description, and i was never lost or left behind. The attention to detail was above average in parts, and we got all the necessary visual cues we’d miss out on without audio description.
Final Thoughts: I love this film. I hate that we have to make films Ike this, that they feel so grounded in reality, and not a work of fantasy or fiction. I hate that our world is such that this tale will hit close to home for some, but at the same time, I’m glad that people have the gumption to attack this topic from this angle. Films that have the power to make us think, often can be quite special.
Final Grade: A