Promising Young Woman

This brilliantly made social commentary features an exquisite cast, excellent filmmaking, and a plot that consistently pulls the rug out from under your expectations.

I don’t want to give away anything. This movie is at its most fun when you let it surprise you. I will merely relay the information given in the films own trailer. Cassie is a young woman who threw away her medical aspirations years ago. She spends her weekends pretending to be drunk in bars in order to call out men for their vile behavior toward vulnerable women. That’s the premise in a nutshell, but the movie is so much more interesting than that!

The movie is deeply interested in the long term effects of trauma and what can happen to a person as they struggle with their pain. Carey Mulligan gives an A+ performance as Cassie. Cassie is a woman who has refused to move on from trauma and allowed her pain to close her off from life and the world around her. She lives with her parents brilliantly played by Clancy Brown and Jennifer Coolidge. She works in a dead end minimum wage job. She has put her life on hold in the moment of her pain. So many revenge stories focus on how badass and awesome it is to get revenge. This film focuses on the toll it takes on the revenge seeker.

On top of the films heavy themes of revenge and sexual violence it is an absolute blast to watch! This is a fun movie. The filmmaking is energetic and brilliantly creative. The opening sequence is shot like a Hitchcock suspense then shifts into full blown horror movie mode. There are multiple scenes of dramatic conversations in which the power dynamic sifts subtly between the characters and the camera moves to emphasize those shifts in wonderful ways.

The opening shots of this film delights me. I’m sure we’ve all seen the music videos that focus on bikini clad girls butts shaking to music. This opens in a night club. The music is thumping. The lights are flashing. But instead of sexy supermodel butts. It’s middle aged dudes. No bikinis just khakis. No lady butts just flat dude butts. It’s hilarious and announces the movies style and intentions perfectly. It made me laugh and still makes me smile.

I loved how this film balanced its tonal shifts. There are moments that are laugh out loud funny, but there are moments full of pain and loss. The film manages to keep it all feel of a piece. It stays rooted in Cassie as a character. She is capable of humor and joy and as the story progresses she might even be able to heal, but that pain is still there.

There are too many great performances here to get into them all, but here’s a quick rundown… Alfred Molina is wonderful as a mirror of what Cassie could become. He is twitchy and excellent. Bo Burnham is a delight as a potential love interest for Cassie. Alison Brie is pitch perfect as the successful conceited woman we all have in our lives and despise. Molly Shannon shows up and has a brilliant little scene.

The movie challenged me to examine my own behavior and how I would behave in certain circumstances. I’m sure it will just offend and outrage some people unwilling to examine themselves more closely. The movie doesn’t demonize anyone. It just refuses to accept the excuses for bad behavior that we’ve gotten used to over the years.

The ending almost derailed the movie for me. It’s not the ending I was expecting and not what I was hoping for. However, looking back it was foreshadowed perfectly, and it fits the narrative. It is kind of exactly how the movie needed to end even if it wasn’t exactly as I was expecting.

This movie is challenging. It’s funny. It’s tragic. It’s true. And it’s brilliantly made. I loved it. I was enthralled, I lost track of time and just e gaged fully with the story. I hope you give it a shot. It’s streaming for rent on various platforms.

It’s my cup of tea. A

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