School reports can be cruel. We found an old copy of our Editors where the headmaster’s comment was that he, ‘continually sets himself low standards which he continually fails to achieve’. (‘You’re fired!’ – Ed). Promising Young Women is inspired by a similar incidence where a college student who had been described as a, ‘promising young man’ convicted of a sexual assault whilst on campus. Here it’s Cassie (Carey Mulligan) who, when we first see her, is drunkenly collapsed in a bar and is taken home by a Jerry (Adam Brody) professing to take care of her and then proceeds to take advantage of her until she soberly turns to him and asks, ‘What are you doing?’ It’s not the first time she’s done this and each of her victims wails, ‘I’m not a bad guy!’ Yet as we see time and again these are exactly the guys she’s been targeting since she dropped out of med school after Nina, her best friend at the college and the promising young woman of the title, was victim to something awful.
Cassie has been on what might be called a roaring rampage of revenge against all such men with a notepad full of the names of those she has taught a lesson yet Cassie herself is as much a victim : at 30 years old she has an aimless existence forgetting her own birthday, still living with her parents, serving hot drinks in a coffee shop and mentally scarred by what happened to her friend, Nina. It’s a scar that she’s never willing to let heal as she rages as much against the system that failed her friend as it is against a certain type of man. Yet there is hope when Ryan, a former med school student and now a Doctor, tentatively starts to date her. You really want Cassie to be happy and you are willing the relationship to develop and reinstate the notion to Cassie that not all men are like the one she hunts. Carey Mulligan, who we saw recently in the excellent ‘The Dig‘, plays this role so brilliantly that though she’s clearly deeply traumatized and is unlikely ever to find any closure with the path she is following, you are still rooting for her to be happy with Ryan (Bo Burnham). So when she sets her sights on the ex-student colleague who has returned from London and is now on the verge of marriage she determines to exact revenge on behalf of her friend Nina.
Written and debut directed by Emerald Fennell this is compelling viewing and she has rightly been Oscar nominated, as has Mulligan, for a film whose last act will instigate discussion. Part thriller, part righteous indignation this is sure to feature on Top Ten end of year lists because Promising Young Woman lives with you long after it has finished.
Here’s the Promising Young Woman trailer…….
Promising Young Woman is on Sky Cinema and NOW from 16th April 2021