Film Review: Promising Young Woman

I can’t stop thinking about Batman. The protagonist/anti-hero of Emerald Fennell’s divisive debut feature, Promising Young Woman, has so much in common with Gotham’s most famous resident. Cassie Thomas (Carey Mulligan, An Education, Drive) is haunted by the loss of a loved one. Her anger regarding the violence of that loss consumes her to the point that her entire life revolves around taking elaborate, non-lethal retaliation against the portion of the population she deems responsible (mostly CIS, straight, white dudes). As such, her life has stalled. She is incapable of getting close to anyone. She leads a double life. By day she works at her friend’s coffee shop and dresses in youthful pastel florals. She pretends to be OK. But after dark, she dons her costume: rumpled black and white business suits and carefully smeared YouTube tutorial makeup. She hunts the bad guys with an elaborate ruse and then teaches them a harsh lesson.

Cassie has a pretty good system going, too. She feigns blackout drunkenness in order to capture the attention of “nice” guys who want to make sure she “gets home safe.” They inevitably bring her back to their place and wait for her to “pass out.” Once they’re holding the smoking underpants, she breaks character and launches into a lecture on consent. In the morning, she records her encounters in a color-coded journal wrapped in a scrunchie. Though she never explains the key, there are clues to cracking it. Some names are black, some are blue, and some are red. It has something to do with how they respond to her ruse. We never see a red encounter, but there’s no way she’s come out unscathed every time. There are so many names. Page after page of tally marks. Lest we forget the incident that led us here…

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Film Review: Revenge

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Rape revenge movies are practically a subgenre of horror, and they are (like most movies) typically directed by men. Not that men are incapable of making great films about women. But maybe it shouldn’t be just men telling stories about one of the most traumatic experiences a woman can have. Especially since society can’t even agree on the definition of “rape.”

French writer/director Coralie Fargeat is an insanely talented up-and-comer. She’s clearly capable of crafting a cinematic masterpiece and comes pretty close to achieving perfection with her debut film: the rape vengeance genre up-ender, Revenge. Fargeat has studied her predecessors and pinpointed all of their missteps. Films like I Spit On Your Grave and Last House on the Left spent way too much time on the violation part of the story…

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