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‘Promising Young Woman’: Thought provoking and passionate

| Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Mary O'Reilly | The Observer

Picture this: It’s a Friday night in your childhood bedroom and you splurge $20 to stream the latest from girl-power director Emerald Fennell, starring Carey Mulligan and out-from-the-shadows YouTuber-turned-actor Bo Burnham. The film you have chosen, “Promising Young Woman,” is a fast paced, thought-provoking piece that is sure to leave viewers questioning the effectiveness of the #MeToo movement and engrossed by the passion of a woman wronged.

In a crowded bar, a woman finds herself stumbling over her words, tequila spilled on her lap and lipstick smeared across her face. Enter “the nice guy.” He steps in to make sure the woman gets home safely (or, at least, back to his place). Just as quickly as “Prince Charming” attempts to take advantage of her, the damsel in distress — who turns out to be fully sober — confronts him, often making him second-guess anything he was about to do. This charade is a weekly occurrence for medical school dropout and barista Cassandra “Cassie” Thomas, but it is only part of her long-term revenge plan.  

Yet the film transcends the average rape revenge storyline. For starters, Cassie is acting on behalf of her late best friend, Nina. The film is also divided into numbered acts, each representing an individual whom Cassie believes holds responsibility for the events that lead to Nina’s death.

Each situation is starkly unique in that Cassie methodically plans just how to mess with her targets’ psyches, whether that means convincing them they have committed adultery or that their teenage daughter has been kidnapped and left alone in a male dorm room. While she never lets these bits carry on forever, enough time seemingly passes for the perpetrators to reflect on their actions.

But what’s any strong female lead without a man to bring her down? While working as a barista, Cassie encounters an old medical school classmate, Ryan, who is now working as a pediatric surgeon (okay, pull at my heartstrings more). The dynamics of Cassie and Ryan’s budding relationship seem almost too good to be true. The duo quickly hits it off, and a reluctant and emotionally guarded Cassie slowly lets down her walls for him. That is until she learns his fatal flaw — after finding video footage implicating Ryan at the scene of Nina’s rape, Cassie calls it quits and quickly adds him to her list. 

With a runtime just shy of two hours, viewers could be tempted to turn off the movie after the climax at 1:45, but boy, would they be making a mistake. Despite having the potential ending after the untimely death of the protagonist, the last 15 minutes are a rollercoaster of suspense, satisfaction and sweet, sweet revenge. With everything from posthumous texts to a ruined wedding, the ending of the film leaves viewers slack-jawed and wondering what in the world just happened.

Title: “Promising Young Woman”

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham

Director: Emerald Fennell

Genre: Thriller/Black Comedy

If you like: “Fatal Attraction”

Shamrocks: 4 out of 5

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About Mia Marroquin

Mia Marroquin is a rising senior Communication Studies major at Saint Mary’s. Currently serving as Saint Mary’s News Editor, she hails from Holland, Michigan and is an 80’s movie fanatic. Follow Mia on Twitter @_miamarroquin

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