Carey Mulligan disappoints in Promising Young Woman”.

I am mystified by all the attention and awards that “Promising Young Womanis receiving. The feature film directorial debut of British actress Emerald Fennell – so deliciously calculating as Camilla Parker Bowles in “The Crown” – stars Carey Mulligan as Cassie, a 30-year-old woman who still lives with her parents. Seems she dropped out of medical school after her best friend Nina was raped by a classmate and, after the school and legal system failed her, committed suicide. Cassie has now devoted her life to going to clubs and feigning drunkenness to get a man to take her home. She waits for them to take advantage of her and then reveals her sobriety.

  • It’s like SURPRISE!
  • But isn’t this entrapment?
  • Isn’t this really sick behavior?
  • Doesn’t Cassie need help?
  • Of course not, the movie, whose moods and tones shift from one second to another, seems to be saying.
  • Cassie also targets people in potentially soul destroying ways. People who she thinks should have stood up for Nina and didn’t. However, in one of the movie’s few moments of serenity and truthfulness, when Cassie visits Nina’s mother (Molly Shannon, a breath of fresh air) there is a suggestion that Cassie herself may have let Nina down on the night in question and that she should let the matter drop and get on with her life.
  • She even goes so far as to actually kidnap the daughter of the school principal (Connie Britton) to teach her a lesson or two. There are no repercussions for this action but, the really egregious thing – Fennell is the writer as well as the director – is that the movie doesn’t even raise the question that there would be or should be.
  • The nightclub scenes are also very troubling. Cassie dresses up in garish outfits with smeared makeup and ends up looking like one of the dolls that comes alive in Coppelia. So there she is “sloshed” and by herself at 2am and it’ Closin’ time, ugly lights, everybody’s inspected.
  • Who in their right mind would want to have anything to do with this creature other than to put her in a taxi and send her home. Not all men want to take advantage of an inebriated young lady. The ironic thing is that Mulligan’s beauty has always been its unaffectedness combined with a fierce talent, making her one of the great actresses of today. Not here, though. This is probably her least effective performance.
  • There is also no mention of the fact that everyone is, to some degree, responsible for his or her own behavior. It’s intimated that Nina may have been drunk on the night in question. What happened to her was, of course, unpardonable but the fact that we as sentient beings, are responsible for keeping ourselves out of dangerous situations is never mentioned.
  • Finally, because she handles the tone of the individual scenes so badly, there is no sense of how tongue-in-cheek Fennell is getting with all this and, after a while, you cease to care. The scenes between Mulligan and a would-be boyfriend, toward the end of the movie, are particularly problematic, and you get the feeling that Fennell is desperately searching for some sort of closure.

“Promising Young Woman” is available for streaming on HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV.

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