Promising Young Woman (2020)
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Had a very mixed response to this one, alas.
First things first, though: Carey Mulligan is extraordinary in it. She just has an absolutely perfect grasp on what's happening, even when the rest of the film doesn't.
Alas, there are plenty of moments when the film gets awkwardly lost in what it's trying to do. There's absolutely a film out there that can be a cheeky topical satire, study of trauma and playful revenge film all at once. But the tone often feels wrong here, stumbling between different registers and moods without fully landing the jumps.
The last act is where it all kind of falls apart.
It's a shame things don't come together, because there's lots to like. As said, Mulligan is astoundingly good here and deserving of all the accolades. Fennell is an obviously promising director, and the vibrant colour palette and magnificent costume work are a joy to behold. There's a lot of really good scenes, too:
It's a film I definitely admired for trying to speak bluntly about tricky subject matter - society's attitudes towards rape and consent will always be worthy of critique and examination. But PYW can't quite navigate the thorny maze it puts itself in - it addresses its subject matter head-on, but can't wrap that into a coherent narrative. A valiant effort that takes some big swings, but a rather unsatisfactory film in the end.
Who forgets that they have a rape tape?
As a rape-revenge fantasy, Promising Young Woman is at once more playful and more distressing than the norm. At times, the movie has a lot of fun making you think something different is happening, and toying with romcom tropes (of all things), but it's also much more grounded than some of the extreme vigilante stuff that has marked the subgenre. It's a black comedy, if anything, and someone spit in it, but you're gonna drink it anyway. Yes, it can be quite blunt about the issue it's dealing with, even didactic, but the only real problem here is that these things still need to be said. And they do. We just saw them play out in recent U.S. Supreme Court appointments. The movie takes us through the entire process of men being the victims in a system that happily destroys women, with the wry satirical wit that also gave us the title. And it might not have worked without an engaging performance from Carey Mulligan, who you're able to root for, possibly even if she crosses the line. Great supporting cast too, especially Bo Burnham, who gets to be funny while you wait for the other shoe to drop (and it doesn't matter if it does, because the tension is all).
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In 5 official lists
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This movie ranks #19 in iCheckMovies's 2020s Top 100
This movie ranks #28 in IMDb's 2020s Top 50
This movie ranks #50 in BAFTA Award - Best British Film
This movie ranks #565 in TSPDT's 21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films
This movie ranks #572 in Academy Award - Best Picture Nominees