‘Promising Young Woman’ serves up an acidic dose of rage at rape culture
It's a familiar scene: a group of men in khaki clothes circling a very drunk woman in a bar until a nice guy steps up to make sure she gets home safely.
Only in this case the rescuers are predators and the woman in need is freezing sober and ready to rumble.
Carey Mulligan describes her character in "Promising Young Woman" as an "avenging angel" whose job it is to get predatory men to recognize the flaw in their path.
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"She gets that moment of satisfaction, the feeling of having corrected some injustice for a moment. I think that feels really good for a day or a half and then it doesn't and the need to do it all over again doing is increasing. She feels like she's being proactive, ”Mulligan, who stars as Cassie Thomas, told the New York Daily News.
"But she is actually someone who is just stuck. She is somewhat in stasis. She is stuck in the time that this traumatic event happened in her life, and sometimes just refuses to continue because she is one on behalf of her friend feels such injustice. She has not moved out of her house, she has found no meaning in her work, she has no friends, she has not led a life outside of her teenage room. "
As Promising Young Woman, which hits theaters on Friday and on-demand in 2021, progresses, creator Emerald Fennell unravels Cassie's motivation - a year-long feeling of guilt and discomfort that drove her to leave medical school. She gave up friends and relationships, professional accomplishments. Now she only confronts rude men.
"Most of the things in our movie are things we've seen in comedies for the past 10 or 15 years," Mulligan told The News. "And we laughed about that, Emerald and I included. Part of it is the way we have all helped make these things normal when, on closer inspection, they clearly aren't."
Fennell, who made her feature writing and directing debut, began working on Promising Young Woman in 2017 before the #MeToo movement fully formed before Harvey Weinstein was arrested or Brett Kavanaugh was nominated for the Supreme Court.
The men were filled with a vision, familiar faces that we recognize as good guys: Adam Brody, Max Greenfield, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chris Lowell. Men you wouldn't expect to take advantage of you when you're drunk. Bo Burnham, whose "Eighth Grade" was first welcomed as a director and writer by critics, plays Ryan, a former college acquaintance who eventually cracks Cassie's appearance and finds a woman capable of love and joy.
"Ryan was an exciting thing to dig past the surface of a nice guy and ask for a certain kind of kindness and charm that I always want when I watch movies has been interrogated," Burnham told The News. "Yeah, this guy is nice and cute, but what if you stayed with him past that point, when you showed what else was going on?" Usually the worst thing a man does in a rom-com is forgetting a birthday. Life is a little bit more chaotic I think. "
"Promising Young Woman" isn't about men pretending to be good guys. It's about men who really believe they are good guys when they aren't.
"It's not like being behind closed doors, you bring Cassie home and all of a sudden you're bad. No, you bring Cassie home and still think they're good guys," Burnham told The News. "In a confessional would they still say they are good. That makes it a deeper, more ingrained problem. It's not even a secret that you keep. It's a truth that you don't even acknowledge. "
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