Promising Young Women

They say she was a ‘Promising Young Woman’

By Alison Malawey

A&E Editor

With her arms strewn across the back of a red vinyl couch as if crucified and her head hung low, Cassie Thomas is a flytrap pretending to be drunk to lure in men who think of themselves a good men but always seem to take things too far. 

“Promising Young Woman” is a dark comedy that tells the story of a woman, Cassie Thomas, who goes out weekly pretending to be drunk and lets men pick her up. 

She always gives them the option to do the right thing, but none ever seem to take that route. It’s always a shock for the men when they find out she isn’t actually drunk and confronts them on their wrongdoings. 

As the film goes on, it’s revealed that Cassie’s reason for her late night activities has to do with her childhood friend, Nina, who was raped while they were both in medical school.

Things change for Cassie when she runs into an old friend from college, Ryan, who pursues her romantically. 

People from Cassie and Nina’s past come back into her life, and she decides to enact revenge on the people who ruined her and Nina’s lives. 

Cassie must choose between giving up on vengeance and having a normal, happy life with Ryan or continuing with her revenge. 

Cassie chooses love, but just as she’s settling down, something comes to light that ruins everything with Ryan.

I loved this movie. 

Director Emerald Fennell made this film to point out things in society that can be difficult to talk about. 

I understand how some people may not like the movie or might find it slow, but I think that it does an excellent job of showing how far things have gone in terms of socially acceptable behavior toward women.

The film is the directorial debut for Fennell who also wrote and produced the film. 

She even makes a cameo as a makeup tutorial vlogger. 

Fennell describes Cassie as an avenging angel who comes into people’s lives and exposes their sins. 

It was important to her to make a film about someone who wouldn’t let others’ uncomfortableness silence them in their pursuit of justice. 

So often women are pressured into “getting over it” because the situation makes those around them uncomfortable.

The movie took 23 days to film and was shot in Los Angeles. 

It was important to Fennell that the setting not look like LA because she didn’t want anyone saying, “It’s LA. Of course things like that happen there,” as an excuse for how often men in the film do the wrong thing. 

She wanted it to seem like these things could be happening anywhere to anyone. 

Many of the actors who play the bad guys are comedians in an effort to make the audience feel safe with them. 

Fennell noted that all the men see themselves as good people, one even sees himself as the hero of a romantic story. 

There’s nothing in this film that isn’t extremely commonplace for women but also borderline illegal. 

Fennell said that the things that happen in the movie are things that happened all the time when she was in college. 

After the film was released in theaters, a critic in Variety magazine put out a review in which he suggested that Carey Mulligan was not attractive enough for the role of Cassie. 

Mulligan responded in a video series by Variety by saying “criticism should be constructive” and should have nothing to do with the actor’s looks.

The critic received heavy backlash on social media for his statement and Variety issued an apology to Mulligan. 

Some defended the critic and his right to have an opinion. 

I agree that everyone is allowed to have an opinion, but I feel that his opinion is part of the problem with the way men think of sexual assault. 

Women of all varieties are victims of sexual assault. 

A recent study by UN Women United Kingdom shows that 97% of women ages 18-24 had experienced sexual harassment and that’s in the UK alone. 

Chances are if you’re a woman, no matter where you are, you’ve experienced sexual harassment or know someone who has. 

Watching the movie, I could tell that viewing the movie as a man would be a completely different experience. 

One would hope that viewers would know sticking your fingers inside a drunk woman who keeps saying wait is obviously wrong, but the film is filled with less obvious things too, things that I think a male viewer might have trouble catching. 

With all the discussion about consent these days, I think this film is a great way for women to start a conversation with the men in their lives. 

The film gives men a very accurate view of the dangers that women face simply because they’re women. 

There is a scene in which a woman is suffocated with a pillow, and the director made sure the scene lasted as long as it would actually take to suffocate a person with a pillow. 

After the woman has been smothered, the camera never shows her face. 

The closest the audience comes to seeing the woman’s face is when the pillow is lifted and her smeared makeup is on the pillow. 

At this point, the woman is no longer a human but just an object for the men to dispose of. 

Even so, the men convince themselves that they did nothing wrong, that it was the woman’s fault, that they are good people. 

I loved the attention to detail.

Every action, every word, every piece of clothing or wall color has meaning behind it. 

The settings and costumes and makeup are all visually outstanding. 

Cassie’s wardrobe for herself is drastically different than when she goes hunting. 

She uses her image to manipulate the way people feel around her, especially when she starts to go after specific people. 

It’s all stunning.  

The music too is wonderful. 

Many of the songs are ones that most members of the audience would recognize, such as Toxic by Britney Spears. 

Some of the songs give underlying meaning to the scene they’re placed in. 

This movie is a work of art. 

You would never know that this was Fennell’s first time directing. 

The only thing that threw me off was when roman numerals started to appear on the screen, but it soon became apparent that they were a countdown for the people Cassie was getting revenge on.

I give “Promising Young Woman” 5 out of 5 stars.

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