An explosive device, bubble-gum-wrapped in vivacious rom-com feels, this is an ancient tale of womanhood desecrated, and the lengths a loyal heart is willing to go to avenge an injustice. Directed by Emerald Fennell, it fully succeeds in offering us a female gaze extraordinaire, on men who abuse trust, and women who enable them.
Promising Young Woman (2020) is not here to entertain us, although it certainly does do its best to fool us into thinking it will, and kudos for that.
The #MeToo era made its hard-hitting themes of intoxication, consent, and rape more accessible for public discussion, and Fennell’s Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, most likely, easier for distribution, but this is not only a story of this particular time, whatever the deliciously brazen soundtrack feat. Britney Spears cover and Paris Hilton dulcet tunes would suggest. The way I see it, it’s an ageless lore of deep love and female friendship, the grieving process of the survivor turned into rage, seeking vigilante justice, in a manner more belonging to Mesopotamian myth, evoking directly the goddess of love and war, Inanna, and her sister Ereshkigal, rather than any sociopathic femme fatale in cinema.
Carey Mulligan was made for the role of Cassie, the way she was made for the chanteuse in Shame – a painfully open book and a complete enigma, in equal measure, which is a fluidity impossible to portray unless you are of that range, and talent. Descending into a hell of someone else’s making, but through her own choice, facing the rupture of a trauma and a loss head-on, she’s a heroine to be awe of, not to pity or scorn.
As her witty, caring love interest, and narrative distraction, Bo Burnham is note-perfect, revealing himself ten-shades of wonderful, until he is not.
The controversial ending of this humorously and darkly weaved thread on archetypal female retribution will not be discussed here, although Lola On Film analysis often requires spoilers. The reason I refuse to touch upon it is because it needs to be seen and felt as it is set up to be – a shock to the system.
An absolutely spot-on high-stakes finale for the story the film pledged to tell.
I will be giving it a five-star, not because it is a faultless film, which it isn’t, with its uneven rhythm, and often too easy a sitcom trope, but because it is one of a kind.
Author: ©Milana Vujkov