Promising Young Woman (2020) - 8/10
I’ve a sense right from the get go that there’s more to Cassandra (Carey Mulligan) than meets the eye. Once brutally bitten, watch the fuck out. This is revenge cinema dialled all the way up. Cassandra like many women has history with predatory men. Not that the men here are the classic movie trope villains. They’re run of the mill, nice guys on the surface, that ‘just can’t help themselves’. They’re not the predators. Cassandra is. Rightfully. Pretending to be drunk or high in clubs and bars. Allowing herself to be picked up by men looking to take advantage, before dropping the facade and righting the wrong. Cassandra is set on this path by what happened to her friend Nina at med school. Now her only real calling is to educate these men and keep score. Men are all the same. Until she meets Ryan (Bo Burnham). He’s nice, properly nice, but he’s tied to her time at med school and what happened there. Giving Cassandra access to exorcise old demons and find some new ones. The checklist she keeps becomes more focused and the righting of the wrongs more extreme. It’s like Falling Down but with purpose and a solid moral compass. Now it’s not perfect, it’s got some issues, but I’m not gonna highlight a single one (there’s not many anyway). Because it’s very good. Mulligan is fantastic and the support cast with Alison Brie, Alfred Molina, even Clancy Brown who usually plays vile, are all up to scratch. Even though at its core is a horrible story, it’s a brilliant film that portrays the issues with empathy whilst never shying away. So much so I’d say it will rock you to your core and hopefully leave you imprinted with a clearer upstanding of consent and the importance of what that means. If the first 90 minutes is challenging, thoughtful, nuanced, the finale is pure adrenaline retribution. Kicked off with a tense cover of Britney’s Toxic played with staccato violins. It raises the pulse, twists, then detonates beautifully. Director and Writer Emerald Fennell has blasted her way onto screen in her feature debut. I can’t wait to see what she tackles next.