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PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

★★★★

NICE GUYS NO MORE

THEATRICAL REVIEW
LATEST REVIEWS
By Chris dos Santos
15th December 2020

A video was trending from 'The Daily Show' where reporter Jordan Klepper goes to a Trump rally and speaks to his followers. This particular video is from four years ago, when he asked Trump supporters what they thought about some of the then soon-to-president's comments about women and their bodies. Here are some of the direct quotes: "It's locker room talk, that's what boys do," "It was stupid, bragging men talk, men brag," as well as saying they wouldn't let their sons or husbands talk like that but it was okay for a presidential nominee to say those things.

Toxic masculinity is a horrifying thing. The blind eye and unrequited forgiveness society offers to men based on their own choices more often than not comes at the cost of women's mental health. "She shouldn't have been drunk," "Her skirt was too short," "She should have known better." The term "boys will be boys" has been thrown around as a defence for too long, without taking into account the horrifying implications that come with that phrase.

In 'Promising Young Woman', Cassie (Carey Mulligan, 'The Great Gatsby', 'Suffragette'), once a star student working towards becoming a doctor, drops out of college for an unspecified reason and now works at the local coffee shop. But she lives a double life - one that revolves around what happened to her at college. When she reconnects with a student, Ryan Cooper (Bo Burnham, director 'Eighth Grade') from her college, the two fall in love - but also makes Cassie correct the wrongs of her past.

'PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN' TRAILER 2

Before we get into it, 'Promising Young Woman' is one of the best movies of the last 10 years - everyone needs to see it. It is simply one of the most important films I've ever seen, powerful on every level.

Going in, I knew rape would have a part in the narrative, but I didn't realise the conversation that would be brought with it. The marketing leans heavily on the "revenge never looked this good" idea, a woman tricking men into thinking she is drunk only to go in for the kill. And the marketing isn't a lie - it was a smart subversion, and while it is the main narrative of the film it doesn't play out how you would think. The film really breaks down the pass that men get over and over again for their treatment of women - and not just men defending men, also bringing the conversation over to women, who despite all the facts still dismiss the actions of "boys".

The film, similar to 'Birds of Prey', has an absolutely out-of-this-world soundtrack. Each choice feels perfectly picked, from Charli XCX's 'Boys' for the opening credits, DeathbyRomy's cover of 'It's Raining Men', freaking Paris Hilton's 'Stars are Blind', and of course the breathtaking orchestral version of Brittney Spears' 'Toxic' from the trailer. I will never hear 'Angel of the Morning' the same way again. The soundscape of the film is just prefect, echoing every theme and beat perfectly the way a good soundtrack should. It's not just a collection of popular "funky" songs; the soundtrack tells the story of the film's themes perfectly (I literally ordered the vinyl during the credits, I loved the soundtrack so much).

The acting is world-class, led by a phenomenal Carey Mulligan. I'm ready to flip tables when she doesn't get a Best Actress nomination/loses at the Academy Awards next year. She gets to showcase an array of emotions, and you experience every single one along with her - it's a career-defining performance. Bo Burnham also kills it in a more dramatic role, Alison Brie (Netflix's 'GLOW', 'The Post') feels like her 'Happiest Season' character but in a thriller, and Laverne Cox (Netflix's 'Orange is the New Black') is incredible as always. Both Jennifer Coolidge ('Legally Blonde', donning a brunette bob here) and Molly Shannon ('Horse Girl', 'Superstar') shine in rare dramatic performances. Max Greenfield ('What Men Want') is playing Schmidt but without the comedy elements of 'New Girl'. Everyone is bringing their A-game.

The acting is world-class, led by a phenomenal Carey Mulligan. She gets to showcase an array of emotions, and you experience every single one along with her - it's a career-defining performance.

First-time feature film writer/director Emerald Fennel is also doing god's work here. She already made a splash on the small screen with her work on 'Killing Eve', but she is another much-needed voice in film. I can't wait to see what she does next.

While 'Promising Young Woman' does have "fun" 'Birds of Prey'-style empowering moments, that slowly fades away as the horrific thriller comes into play, only getting more and more gut-wrenching and raw as the credits draw closer. The film has a 'Get Out' flavour of filmmaking, using familiar genre tropes to address a bigger issue. Using the thriller genre and pulling from 'Gone Girl', it creates a harrowing tale about sexual assault and the way men are forgiven for their disgusting actions while women are made to feel ashamed by the way men treat them.

Look no further than the internet's defence of Johnny Deep and even Shia LaBeouf: we don't know all the facts and we didn't see what happened, but because they where "childhood crushes", people are quick to defend. In the case of LaBeouf, FKA Twigs was told she was "overreacting" and "needs to calm down", once again dismissing the woman. Depp's situation is more complicated, but anything Warner Bros. has posted on social media in the last month has hundreds of comments attacking the studio's decision to fire him from 'Fantastic Beasts' as he was a "nice guy".

'Promising Young Woman' is an uncomfortable watch, but in the best way possible. It is a game-changer in every sense of the word, and I don't use that term lightly. It's an A+ thriller that doesn't shy away from talking about real issues that need to be confronted. Not only does it succeed with its story, acting and technical aspects, but it excels as a piece of social commentary, demanding change without spelling it out. It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea - it's made to ruffle feathers - but that's nothing compared to the way so many women around the globe are abused by men daily - and if you're uncomfortable with that, stand up and speak out.

Dua Lipa said it best: "Boys will boys but girls will be women."

"I guess it's different when it's someone you love". If you or someone you know needs help, please reach out to www.1800respect.org.au.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: 07/01/2021
RUN TIME: 1h 53m
CAST: Carey Mulligan
Bo Burnham
Alison Brie
Adam Brody
Connie Britton
Jennifer Coolidge
Laverne Cox
Max Greenfield
Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Sam Richardson
DIRECTOR: Emerald Fennell
PRODUCERS: Margot Robbie
Ben Browning
Emerald Fennell
Tom Ackerley
Josey McNamara
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