Dark, funny and brutal, “Promising Young Woman” is a vicious film with a powerful message that is still very fun to watch.
“Promising Young Woman” is as pitch black as dark comedies get. I’m not even sure if I should be calling it a comedy. But this is nonetheless an entertaining film that packs a number of gut punches. The movie is definitely not for kids, but it is also definitely for adults looking for one of the strongest movies of the past year.
“Promising Young Woman” finally came to video-on-demand this month after a limited pandemic theater release.
Once upon a time in med school, Cassie and Nina were the best of friends — until Nina was sexually assaulted by a popular male student, and everybody either turned a blind eye or swept it under the rug. The attack and its aftermath destroyed Nina and led to her death, and now Cassie spends all her time at bars pretending to be drunk in order to catch and confront would-be rapists. When Cassie finds out that popular male student from med school is back in town, she launches into her endgame, to confront and takedown everyone who had a hand in ruining Nina’s life.
“Promising Young Woman” both is and is not a revenge film, and that distinction is what makes it such a unique movie. Not to give away too much of the film, but Cassie does not kill anybody. She doesn’t even hurt any of the rapists she confronts.
This is a film where the truth is the most powerful weapon. And that makes for a far more interesting story. Cassie confronts all the would-be rapists, and all of the people who hurt Nina, with the truth of their actions, their beliefs and the truth of what young women have to deal with in society. And that is the overall message of the film.
“Promising Young Woman” uses all of the tropes of a typical revenge flick but doesn’t pull the metaphorical trigger. The audience is made to confront this truth as much as the characters in the film. But it’s not preachy; it’s still an entertaining movie. Carey Mulligan gives a career-making performance as Cassie, giving the character both playful charm and stone cold determination in equal measure. “Promising Young Woman” is not an easy movie to accept, but it is nonetheless entertaining and powerful.