Promising Young Woman movie review

Rating: 4 out of 6.

We are a couple of weeks away from the Oscars and “Promising Young Woman” just released in Malaysia today giving us a look at the Best Picture nominee and if it deserves it or not. This is the directorial debut of Emerald Fennell and impressive as it is, she was an actress and an occasional writer for hit TV shows but now has jumped over to directing duties for “Promising Young Woman” which she also wrote and produced.

“Promising Young Woman” centres on Cassie Thomas (Carey Mulligan) who does this thing every night where she would act drunk at a bar somewhere to lure “nice” guys into taking care of her who would then perform heinous sexual acts towards her seemingly semiconscious body. But little did they know, Cassie isn’t actually drunk; she’s completely sober. And she calls out the guys who pretend to be friendly with her and threaten to get them in trouble.

While people would point out the obvious #MeToo theme here, it is much more than that. It is a realisation that men have been taking women for granted, and this movie blatantly calls that out without any filter like a straight social message. Of course, it is wrapped up in a story which at first, I didn’t quite get how it would play out because of certain decisions that our protagonist make but that is what keeps you on your toes.

However, it did feel like “Promising Young Woman” had a grand idea to tackle the subject on but I think it went a little more than it can chew. Like the whole idea of tricking these enablers into guilt were quite intense but it came out disappointing when it was revealed that she only scolds them and not hurt them. A little extreme for a punishment, sure, but shouldn’t the goal she’s trying to achieve be at least satisfying to the audience?

Despite that, the cast was what made the movie worked. While Mulligan ultimately stole the show with her fun yet ominous behaviour when shit is about to go down, it was her male counterparts that I thought was genius casting. You see, we recognise celebrities like Adam Brody, Bo Burnham, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Max Greenfield as nice guys in real life who are free from any career-ending scandals. So, to see them appear on screen, we automatically get the sense of comfort in them and never expect anything bad to happen. But the movie subverts our expectations in a way that I think was quite clever and unexpected.

A lot of people debated over the ending of this movie. Some loved it, others hated it. But I think “Promising Young Woman” ended this roller coaster of a movie perfectly and couldn’t see it happen any other way. The path is paved for this first-time director and I expect good things are going to come her way if she keeps up this momentum.

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