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'Promising Young Woman'

The beautiful blonde dressed in pastels and Pepto-pink is not the damsel in distress, but a vigilante of the night on behalf of her best friend, and all victims of sexual assault.


Radio Adelaide

SPOILER ALERT!


“Promising Young Woman,” directed by Emerald Fennell and produced by Margot Robbie, is a satirical, comedic tragedy that follows Cassie Thomas (Carey Mulligan), an unexpected hero of the night. After the rape and death of her lifelong best friend, Nina, Cassie put her life on hold. She dropped out of med school, moved back into her childhood bedroom, and began working at a small coffee shop. But at night, the pastel sweaters and passive demeanor disappear, and the pumps and eyeliner come out.


In hopes of startling men with their own ignorance and audacity, Cassie hits up a new club, in a new dress, fake-wasted out of her mind, determined to lure a ‘nice guy’ into taking her home. And each weekend, like clockwork, a new ‘nice guy’ attempts to sexually assault her, until she spooks them with her sobriety and her dominance, and forces them to recognize their behavior and audacity.


When Cassie runs into an old friend from med school, Ryan (Bo Burnham), faces from the past reappear in her reality, the man who raped Nina, Al Monroe (Chris Lowell) among them. As Cassie and Ryan begin to see one another, Cassie hesitantly falls for him, with the unwavering approval of the viewer. Happy in her relationship, Cassie decides to seek final vengeance upon the people directly involved in the trauma of her and Nina’s past.


In her ultimate revenge plot, she targets former peers who scoffed at Nina’s story, the perpetrator’s defense attorney, the school dean, and of course the monster himself, Al Monroe. The lack of accountability and acknowledgement for the situation from those involved at the time is what fans the flames of Cassie’s fury.


Cassie’s present interactions with the individuals involved imitates the same inadequate responses they had several years ago. Many of their comments are eerily realistic to those thrown around today.


“What would you have me do? Ruin a young man’s life every time we get an accusation like this?” (Dean Walker, played by Connie Britton)

“I didn’t do anything wrong though… it’s every guy’s worst nightmare getting accused like that.” (Al Monroe, played by Chris Lowell)

After observing the extraordinary pain the incident has caused Cassie and Nina, these responses disgust the viewer. The characters’ unbelievable lack of acknowledgement and accountability open our eyes to the weight millions of victims carry every single day.


Fennell is careful not to lecture her audience of the reasons victim shaming is wrong or the many, many ways in which the stigma of sexual assault is rooted in sexism -- she shows us. We see Cassie’s grief, her pain, and her frustration, and we carry it with us even after the credits roll. We emulate her vexation and encourage her vengeance.


Our hero says it bes