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Promising Young Woman (15)
Directed by Emerald Fennell
NOMINATED for five Oscars, this part dark comedy, part rom-com, but mostly wonderfully refreshing kick-ass revenge thriller sets a new bar for the genre, and its themes resonate in the wake of the Me Too movement.
Just as the The Accused (starring Jodie Foster) made us re-evaluate how we view rape victims — women dressing and acting sexily is not an invitation for men to sexually abuse them — this film holds a mirror up to the view that getting blind drunk on a night out means that “you are asking for it,” and that guys getting girls intoxicated to “seduce them” is a normal part of life.
In a career-defining performance Carey Mulligan — snubbed by Bafta (shame on them) but nominated for an Academy Award — plays former medical student Cassie, who by day works in a coffee shop but by night goes to bars and clubs where she acts paralytic and teaches so-called “nice guys” who befriend her and try to take advantage of her a much-needed and sobering lesson.
Mulligan expertly plays Cassie’s myriad personas as the protagonist, driven by a past trauma, is hell-bent on righting a wrong in this extraordinary thought-provoking yet hugely gripping debut feature by Bafta-winning writer, director, producer and actor Emerald Fennell — best known for Killing Eve and playing Camilla Parker Bowles in Netflix’s The Crown — and co-produced by Margot Robbie and Mulligan. Meanwhile comedian Bo Burnham (Eighth Grade writer-director) portrays Cassie’s love interest Ryan, and encompasses the male psyche which does not fare well in this complex thriller.
Set over five acts, the film is a masterclass in tension — slow reveals and delicious twists are underscored by an inspired and carefully chosen soundtrack, including Paris Hilton’s Stars are blind, and a hair-raising instrumental version of Britney Spears’s Toxic. Nothing can prepare you for the final act, which rises to a rousing crescendo, with Juice Newton’s Angel of the morning, to end on a shocking but satisfying note.
In the wake of calls to address violence against women following the murder of Sarah Everard, this drama hits home. The best film of the year so far.
Available exclusively on Sky Cinema and Now TV
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