Promising Young Woman Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Cassandra “Cassie” Thomas (Cary Mulligan), in her thirties, lives in Ohio at her parents’ house and works as a barista at a local diner. Once Cassie showed great promise – she studied at a medical college and was supposed to become a doctor – but in the process of studying with her best friend Nina, a tragedy happened: at one of the parties, Nina got very drunk, and she was first publicly raped by Cassie’s classmate Alex Monroe ( Chris Lowell), and then a few other guys.

The dean of the university put the complaint filed by Nina on the brakes, some classmates reacted in the style of “yes, it was her own fault, there was nothing to get drunk”, the cunning lawyer hired by the defendants ruined the case in court, so no one was ever punished. Nina herself, desperate to achieve justice, committed suicide.

All this caused Cassie the deepest emotional shock, as a result of which she dropped out of medical school and turned from a “budding” into a young woman whom even her parents Stan (Clancy Brown) and Susan (Jennifer Coolidge) gave up on.

And now Cassie has an interesting hobby. Almost every night she comes to some bar or nightclub, where she pretends to be damn drunk. Cassie waits for another guy to offer to “help” her, after which she takes the girl to her apartment in the hope of hooking up, and instead of hooking up, she gets a conversation with an angry Cassie and a humiliating lecture about not trying to stick your penis into a girl just because that she overdid it.

Of course, with such a peculiar passion for Cassie herself, everything is somehow very, very tense with her personal life, which also worries her parents, but one day a handsome guy Ryan (Bo Burnham) comes to her cafe, who does not give the impression of a complete goat, as many other men. In addition, he works as a pediatrician, and this also impresses the girl, because she herself wanted to become a doctor. Ryan is clearly infatuated with Cassie, and she slowly starts dating him.

But Cassie also continues her nightly outings, and besides, she has a plan to get even with the dean, a classmate Madison (Alison Brie) and a lawyer (Alfred Molina).

***

Weird movie. At first, it seemed to be more or less clear – a picture in the style of rape revenge (revenge for violence). True, it quickly became clear that all these numerous crossed-out sticks in Cassie’s notebook, where she notes her nightly outings, speak only of an educational conversation in the style of “no need to get into panties to a drunk girl”, and if it is difficult to object to this moralizing message, because it’s true, then Cassie’s approach is pure fighting windmills and throwing beads in front of pigs.

No, well, it’s understandable, experienced a serious trauma and all that, but here you somehow think that revenge should manifest itself somehow differently than just a moralizing conversation.

However, it is quite possible that the debutant director Emerald Fennel (she is generally much better known as an actress: Fennel starred in 20 films and TV shows) just wanted to show that, they say, Cassie remains “within the boundaries of the legal field.” Well, you know, many people for whom no fields exist as a class like to point out to others that they must remain “within the legal field.” They wouldn’t have any problems with Cassie: the girl clearly remains within the boundaries of the legal field, and this field will not be crossed either with the dean, or with Madison, or with a lawyer.

Further, with the advent of Ryan, the rape revenge genre strangely migrates towards the most ordinary rom-com (romantic comedy), and also with all the attributes of films for high school students: songs by Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, romantic surroundings and other crap that rape revenge is glued like a dog’s fifth leg.

And all this against the background of absolutely unreadable (at least for me and the cat Bagel) even more strange symbols, like the furnishings of Cassie’s parents’ house – it’s just some kind of Versailles, honestly – and a very mannered display of Cassie against the background of various interiors almost like a Madonna.

However, the story of how Cassie let the dean and Madison clear their throats (the lawyer did not need to cough there, he himself was coughing heavily by that time) – it was interesting, but later the screenwriter (the script was written by Emerald Fennel herself) was carried away to some that perfect swamp with Ryan, and she did the ending in the style of very bad youth dramas, and Bublik and I, watching the madhouse happening on the screen, simply, to be honest, could not believe our eyes: well, it’s complete nonsense, is she mocking ?!!

I remember actress Carey Mulligan for good roles in “Drive” and “Inside Llewyn Davis” (she also played in “The Great Gatsby”, but I did not like this film sharply). Carey liked it here, played with dignity and interestingly. And by the way, she depicts a drunk very realistically, and this is quite difficult.

In some reviews, they complained that, they say, Carey is not suitable for this role, and that, they say, it is not clear who will bite at such a pub in general, well, these are some completely stupid claims. Carey is pretty, charming and quite charismatic. Well, how does it not bite? Still how to bite! In addition, there are men who will even bite on a crocodile, especially if the crocodile pumps up to green parrots.

Bo Burnham quite normally portrayed a simple handsome guy, but he is “simple handsome” according to the plot, so Burnham was not allowed to roam, and he is generally a very versatile person: actor, screenwriter, producer, director, composer and stand-up comedian. (I keep planning to watch a couple of his famous recitals.)

The good actor Alfred Molina played excellently in the scene of Cassie’s visit to the lawyer, and yet he was not even mentioned in the credits, but it’s another matter that a purely scenario-repentant lawyer is just some strange fantasies that have nothing to do with reality.

What’s in general? The picture seems to raise the important question that raping a helpless girl is a heinous crime no matter what state that girl was in, and that such crimes are often “relaxed” for one reason or another, however, it is done as something strange (educational conversations, keep me seven!), director Emerald Fennel staggers into different genres, and this picture does not benefit, purely decorative, some decisions run counter to common sense, but they give a beautiful picture, and closer to At the end, the script stumbles into some kind of utter nonsense.

I watched this case with some interest, but the “aftertaste” remained very, very so-so, at the level of “what the hell did I watch it all at all”?

Interestingly, this picture has already collected a whole bunch of awards. Already five nominations for “Oscar” and of them one victory, and for “Best Screenplay”, Carl, the best screenplay! Four Golden Globe nominations. Six BAFTA nominations and two wins – Best Original Screenplay, Carl, and Best British Film couldn’t have been better).

Why such rich awards and nominations? I have no idea. But here it is clear that the topic is relevant – #metoo and all that. Also, for some reason, critics like to use the word “feminism” in relation to this film, and this is also a hot topic. True, in this case I did not understand at all what “feminism” had to do with it, but, thank God, I am not a critic, so forgive me.

In my opinion, the film turned out to be quite slurred, and it is completely optional for viewing. To be honest, if it weren’t for the heap of nominations and the Oscar received – and this year several very worthy films received awards, including Nomadland, Mank and One More – then I would hardly have started looking at all.

And so – decided to be honored. Well, I was honored, a tick is put in the box. Ah, no! It is necessary, following the example of Cassie, to cross out the wand in a notebook. I strike out.

Promising Young Woman movie review

Director: Emerald Fennel Cast: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox, Chris Lowell, Connie Britton, Adam Brody, Max Greenfield, Alfred Molina

Crime drama, UK-USA, 2020, 113 min.

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