“There is so much potential in the next generation!” I doubt many of you hear that very often. From what I’ve seen, older folk seem to think that today’s generation of kids and young adults are going to doom our world once they’re the ones in charge. That seems to be the mindset of every generation, they think they’re the ideal generation, and that any after them is inferior. Here is where Promising Young Woman comes in to challenge that mindset. We see a main character who behaves just like someone who would get all the fingers pointed toward by baby boomers for an example as to why the future of our planet is doomed. But looking deeper past her heavy makeup reveals a horrifically cunning mind who knows the wasteland that other women like her are living in: a male dominated society that the millennial generation is finally declaring as toxic, as they should.
The feature opens with focus on dancing butts at a club, and appropriately, all the characters act like they’re the type of sleazy gal you’d see in a lipstick tutorial. The opening dialogue shows men shamelessly talking crap about women, which leads into them deciding to take advantage of a drunk woman named Cassie (played by Carey Mulligan), her panties visible right from the first sight of her in a vulnerable sitting position. Every visual piece stemmed off from the gut-punching first scene is appropriate in the ever thrillful revenge fantasy, especially the Roman numerals used to outline each of Cassie’s victims, with a IIII in place of a IV. You’ll see why in the end.
Over the course of this experience, the one aspect that should prove to be the most impactful is the acting, as it takes on new meaning to what’s already been established as sexual in pop culture. One huge scene almost feels like a reverse Fifty Shades of Grey from the way the two actors sustain their eye contact, in the same way you’d hide behind your pillow while watching a horror movie. But the best acting comes from Bo Burnham, who assumes the impression of how any woman would look at an idiot male. The actors feel like they came right out of the set designs, particularly the coffee shop manager who acts as pop colored as the walls of her store, like she wants the rest of the world to look through those same tinted, heavily caffeinated glasses.
Don’t think that this movie is right when it says revenge is good because it’s truthfully not. It’s not a good thing that this movie wants to glamorize revenge, even to the extent where it’s better to do that than to remember why you set off for revenge in the first place. You can tell that there’s a priority in the revenge aspect over the heart of the story because the broken heart necklace Cassie wears is not introduced properly. It’s an object said to have heavy meaning for her, but the whole hate and revenge aspect are at the end of the day easier to remember than the movie’s love and trauma components. This in turn makes it look ideal for women to put on scandalous shows, especially since Cassie in the end ultimately gets what she wants.
That in turn makes for incomplete use of character arcs in the script, as any character who isn’t Cassie lacks development. That particularly goes to her boyfriend, whose true rough and dark side isn’t shown to its full extent, no matter how much it tries. There’s also a great lack of realism that overpowers Cassie and makes her too easy to root for. She’s too smart and too despicably cunning to be realistic, and the movie almost tries to take her side through the music that tries to act deranged but for the most part isn’t. So viewers who are more uneasy about watching antiheroes who take sadistic joy in manipulating others would probably be better off sitting this movie out.
That’s why the direction works in helping you understand just how this deranged human being looks at the world, mostly with some fisheye lens shots that bulge out the thing she wants to focus on. Carey Mulligan implements that concept into her performance perfectly; she’s just as freaky as she needs to be, so much so, that you’d totally believe she’s crazy enough to tally the men she tricks at the club. She’s the type of traumatized individual who needs to move on, and her voice likewise sounds like that of an immature brat who will cling onto anything that looks colorful and shiny. She’s frequently framed in the lower half of the screen, and Carey Mulligan likewise accommodates her posture to look more pressured into considering what her ideal death ought to look like. She’s not what you’d even expect from someone you’d see wasted at the club, prone to men taking advantage of her. It gets disturbing when it looks like she’s about to be raped, but then shocks you when an unexpected narrative twist pops up. But it’s not as shocking as the final three minutes, which offer the most amazing plot twist to ever twist the plots.
So where do we go from here? We shouldn’t feel discouraged that we’re living in a society where men have the power and women have to play victim. While revenge is not necessarily the answer, nor is reversing the genders to make men the victim, the actions that Cassie takes on the oppressors of her life are the wakeup call that everybody needs to see what happens when men and women alike let their inner drive take control. The world is not meant to work that way, and seeing what has been done by a Promising Young Woman like Cassie could very well scare those past middle age out of their old mindset that has ignored the damage they indirectly caused future generations. That’s why 2021 looks like there could be a little more hope in restoring justice into an unjust system.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!