Promising Young Woman
Emerald Fennell, one of those multi-talented young women who the entertainment world seems to be replete with at the moment, appeared as the young Camilla Parker-Bowles in the Netflix hit, The Crown, but also has writing credits for the BBC’s Killing Eve. Promising Young Woman is her first feature film, as director, and she also wrote the screenplay, for which she won an Oscar and a BAFTA. The film also won the BAFTA for Outstanding British Film of 2021. Cassie, played by Carey Mulligan, has an interesting hobby. Dropping out of medical school years ago after an undefined trauma involving her best friend Nina, she works at a coffee shop now, and entraps men at night into revealing that their own perception of their moral code is a form of denial. Fennell reveals what happened to Nina slowly in Promising Young Woman, but it’s clear she was a victim of not just one privileged man but a system that protected the criminal over the accuser. Cassie is trying to dismantle that system one shitty guy at a time.
Promising Young Woman is as confident as its protagonist, a film that’s willing to be a little messy and inconsistent in a way that reflects Cassie’s existence. She works in a coffee shop and has supportive parents, but every day is filled with the reminder of what she’s lost. She sits at night looking at photos of her best friend when they were young. We often see trauma and overriding grief on film as clean, neat character traits but the tonal whiplash of this film captures something about the inconsistency of these issues better than most movies even try to do. Cassie is brilliant and beautiful, but she can’t stop herself from fighting back against systems that protect awful men in whatever way she can, even if that fight keeps her locked in a box of her own design.
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Venue: William Loveless Hall