a twisted thriller with lurching in pitch

Facing ‘A promising young woman’ (Promising Young Woman, 2020) is one of those tasks that require surgical movements so as not to touch the wrong fibers, since her cinema approach with message, an important proposal because it is relevant at a time when the Me Too It has turned the tables with reason in front and the right background, so that everything it achieves or provokes is going to be judged under that filter of “necessary cinema”.

The ideas posed by Emerald Fennell’s film make it a sort of genre manifesto that creates an automatic veil over her cinematographic approach, which belongs to a somewhat indefinable between indie dramedia, thriller and a certain will of cult artifact drowned out by the trimmings of a post ‘Bad Girls’ (Mean Girls, 2004) pop youth cinema that infiltrates with musical moments that try to lighten the nihilistic residue that adheres to his discourse even above his characters.


The greatest success of Fennell’s script is to relegate the past of Cassie, its protagonist, to a secondary plane on which his avenging journey will be built, making the juiciest part of the film unfold as a mystery, with the grievance of an old dead friend as the main motivation to try to teach different men who try to take advantage of her or put people (of any gender) in embarrassing situations. ) that allow attitudes in a more or less veiled way and look the other way.

A promising character

This is undoubtedly the most relaxed and well-constructed part of the film, full of reflection on the institutional acceptance of certain attitudes related to sex, of behaviors that suppose an injustice for the victims and how the social position can overcome the facts, revealing real situations, details seen in real universities that redirect the black comedy and thriller side of the film to the realization of a revenge based on lessons that, while not involving apparent physical harm, are morally dubious.

But those moments work because, beyond their didactic ambivalence, they have as protagonist Carey Mulligan, in a spectacular role, with cynical looks, accumulated sadness and the weight of responsibility too deep within the soul to believe in love, which endows a defeated character with greater fierceness, who does not quite understand why the family of his dead friend does not support his crusade, which he sees in the revenge the only balm.

It is in this particular moment when it is revealed in the film that the only hope of Cassie, a boy who dances songs by Paris Hilton – a millennial moment of irony of pop culture with an expired bow – totally perfect for her, turns out to be one of the accomplices of the rape that drove her friend to suicide. And here the film abandons its comedy pose and decides to become a revenge movie in which it ends up falling on the woman back, as an additional punishment.


A third anticlimactic and bitter act

In one of the bitterest moments in recent cinema, ‘A promising young woman ‘makes us witness the death of the protagonist in an exhausting scene, unpleasant to the extreme and cruelly sustained over time, as if he wanted to come and explain the danger of seeking revenge or for a moment, that the patriarchy always gets its way. A kind of rereading of the subplot of the wedding of ‘Very Bad Things’ (1998) that seems to carry an anti-reactionary message, but that ends up having the opposite effect.

In a hasty epilogue, we witness Cassie’s plan B, an afterlife revenge, anyway, in which turns to what seems to have been told to us in the first hour of the tape, but with a not very ingenious development, quite predictable and that misses opportunities to do something more spectacular such as sending the incriminating video to all mobile phones. A plan that he has previously made clear is carried out without much glamor, returning to the use of pop cues that scratch the viewer who still digests the incomprehensible cruelty in the previous death.

'Revenge' proves that the rape and revenge genre can be updated without losing its grindhouse essence

Promising Young Woman‘It never gets as crazy as its trailer promises, it does offer a cocktail of moments for Tumblr, eccentric comedy thanks to the moments with Cassie’s parents, Korean thriller and finally horror film and drama with feminist message. Between versions of Britney Spears with (more) message and nurse costumes with colored wigs, she sneaks a sordid use of his main character, something he does not deserve, and his sacrifice is perceived as a ritual for the greater good which is to expose the viewer with guilt in the subject of the film.

The resemblance to ‘Carrie 2’

This is a decision that a priori can be brave, but that also indicates frivolity in the handling of its pieces to achieve a greater “lesson”. It is not a death with honor, it is not essential for the plan to come to an end, and it is free and without sufficient reward for its protagonist and the viewer.. This makes tone problems accentuate and tarnish a film with undoubted moments of interest, but which relies its value letter on the debate that will take place around it.

Carrie 2 2

If it is posed as a challenge to the subgenre rape and revenge, all it does is reverse the unpleasant moment of the genre and place it in a moment when it is deprived of any final or healing catharsis, but, as much as the film’s discourse tries to serve as a shock, the moment is still there, and it is much worse than that of many films of the genre, due to its staging, and the way it is included in a film that at times it is “black comedy” and at times it is a pop artifact.

If showing this has a fair alibi, for the content it deals with, it is something that is left to the viewer’s judgment, but we are not seeing something specifically fresh either. It does not function as a satire of a well-known cinema with a masculine gaze, nor is it entirely new or does it pose such a challenge to the cinema of the 90s and 2000s. In fact, a quick reading of its structure seems to have been taken point by point from the story of ‘Carrie 2: Anger’ (The Rage: Carrie 2, 1999).

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Oars with the current

In that one, a new Carrie defended the honor of her suicidal partner after being humiliated by the group of the high school football team, who are dedicated to having sex with all the possible students as a challenge. Specific moments of this, such as the board of directors of the institute overlooking the sins of a son of someone important, or the discovery that her ideal boy has participated in the death of her friend as a trigger for her revenge are totally illustrative that ‘A promising young woman’ is not entirely new.

Promising Young Woman Podcast Orig

In addition, ‘Carrie 2’ is a precedent in horror cinema aimed at the adolescent public of 22 years ago, when it was supposed something brave and groundbreaking to raise something like that, to place the same story at a time when the tables have turned, but letting his empowered character end up like this, also gives him a halo of premature expiration that does not suppose as much earthquake as he pretends, of cinema too delighted to have met, which aims to replay keys of more underground and cool cinema, but settles placidly on the couch from the conventional thriller longer range.

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All in all, the greatest value of ‘A promising young woman‘is in the little moments and the development of a good character that Carey Mulligan manages to make memorable, but whose fate is a turn as depressing and in bad taste as Glenn’s death in ‘The Walking Dead’, which makes the film acquire a controversial value but leaves room for doubt regarding the next Emerald Fennell, which of course will have our full attention.

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