I am not sure why I waited so long to see Promising Young Woman. Maybe the title threw me off.
First of all, how great is Carey Mulligan? And the costuming and set palette! It’s ust full of pops of color and a sort of novelty ice cream shop vibe – like California Gurls or Edward Scissorhands. I completely digress. Let’s talk about the story. Because it’s important.
When we first see Cassie (Carey Mulligan), she is sitting awkwardly in the middle of a semi circle booth at some night club. Barely able to keep her head up, her knees knocking together, and apart, heels struggling to hang on. Some empathetic (emphasis on pathetic) guys notice her and how wasted she seems. Aw, isn’t it sad that her friends left her like this?
Oh wait, we have a hero! And he’s going to make sure she gets home safe. It might be to his house, but hey, he’s a nice guy, right?
All hope is indeed lost because we quickly learn even the nice guys can make the wrong move. Cassie knows this already, she’s got it all down in her little notebook. As if writing a thesis on predatory behavior, her staged nightly encounters are proving her theory. Night after tight, she tries to teach each one a lesson.
We’re not initially privy to the trauma from her past that compels this research. By day, she works innocently and inattentively at a coffee shop and meanders into her parents home on occasion. No feathers are ruffled – in fact nothing appears to have changed in their house since 1979.
When Cassie starts dating an old friend from medical school, we uncover more history. Additional friends emerge revealing the reason for her new night school hobby. Meanwhile, it’s not just “Me, Too.” It’s “You, Too.” We meet people that we can relate to, that are our friends, that we might see in the mirror. Characters that seem innocent, but are complicit.
Writer/Director Emerald Fennell is very clever to use some commonly “fun” actors that we already see as nice guys. The perception puts us at our own crossroads. Think about if someone you like behaves irresponsibly. What would you do? Would you say something? Have we said anything? Are we shrugging off or blaming what was culturally and socially acceptable?
So many nice guys out there from great backgrounds with a great future. Of course, I get the title now; Promising Young Woman. And I’m angry. Most importantly, I promise I will say something.