Nathan is a film critic and aspiring author with a true passion for the film industry who hopes his writings will help launch his career.
I can't think of another film that took as big of an advertising risk as Promising Young Woman. The trailer made me think this film would be a revenge story, and in a way it was, but I didn't expect the story to be so deep and so...sweet. That's not to say that it was a bad choice because it wasn't. The film absolutely delivered and made every point it intended to make. It's hard to categorize though because it was a drama, a comedy, a romance, a crime thriller and a revenge story all in one. I think that's what made the film such an incredible experience. It catered to everyone's hopes and not just one group's expectations.
The film follows Cassie, a 30-year-old college dropout who still lives with her parents and works in a coffee shop. She has an intriguing hobby as well. Every week, she goes to a bar and pretends to be too drunk to stand. Why, you may ask? To prove a point. Every week, a guy comes up to her and offers to take her home. But none of them ever take her home. They always end up back at the guy's place where each one has attempted to take advantage of her. But instead, her being sober, she flips the script on them and catches them by surprise. When she discovers that someone she knew from her college days is back in town, the ultimate plot goes into motion. She knows she can not let this one go because he's the one that started it all. This man raped her best friend Nina at a college party and Cassie is out to settle the score.
Sounds like a real thriller, right? Well something happens to Cassie that neither she nor the audience sees coming. She falls in love! Say what, now? You thought this was supposed to be Atomic Blonde only with an actual plot? Well, you thought wrong! But that's what propels this film from the good territory to the incredible territory. This isn't just another revenge tale. This is a story where we actually care one way or the other. We're not sure if the victim is actually going to win or not. The love story makes the film unpredictable and that's a beautiful thing. A lot of these revenge flicks have become so formulaic that we know what will happen next. I love Liam Neeson but come on, dude, do something new. Liam on a plane, Liam on a train, Liam in an automobile. Promising Young Woman gave the revenge drama genre the shake-up it needed so desperately.
Carey Mulligan was absolutely brilliant as the wounded and devious Cassie. She so perfectly captured how guarded and cold a woman who has been hurt and traumatized becomes. Once you discover the full story, you feel for her and can't help but be emotionally tied to her. Bo Burnham and Laverne Cox were equally the comedic relief stars. Chris Lowell, Adam Brody, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse were brilliant in their brief roles as the "good guys" who just made a mistake and immediately try to justify their actions. Then again, they are men so maybe it just came naturally!
In conclusion, Promising Young Woman forces you to take a step back and really analyze yourself. Everybody can easily say "I wouldn't take advantage", but what would you actually do? It hits hard and makes you ask yourself, "am I really a good person?" I give the film a 3.5 out of 4.
© 2021 Nathan Jasper