Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020)

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020)

#26 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Apr 13, 2021 6:04 pm

pianocrash wrote:
Tue Apr 13, 2021 4:34 pm
I passed the time with this one, but by the end the strings broke and the premise fell apart, as others have pointed out. The implausibility of the bait & switch club tactics that Cassie used to give stern talking-to's to otherwise oblivious men felt much the same: a great idea, but nobody is learning or growing from their mistakes, especially in the manner of making people accountable for their actions (not to mention that even the dimmest bulbs would get wise sooner than six or seven pages worth of pen marks in any town on earth, even if she was a master of disguise). On the other hand, characters like Molina & Brie felt nearly whole in their guilt, and the sympathy you felt toward them was oodles more than you eventually feel for Cassie (as well as whatever her "plight" ended up becoming, amounting to little more than Fennell's shiny, toothless puppetry). And much of that is the ability to endure the suffering of consequences when there are actual stakes involved (and Cassie is careful to tow the line of what is and is not illegal re: her intended marks, which is why those tactics seem so meaningless). And in a less contrived situation, those consequences would be more understood, which is why, for instance, that road rage scene is positively ridiculous when the goal seemed to be just the opposite. And then the ending?
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It made the rest of the film seem like every new event was a threat of suicide wherein becoming a martyr was always the end result, because that's just what Cassie was always supposed to be.
I think this is pretty clearly an exaggerated version of our reality to match the heightened emotions and cornered predicament of Cassie, who is her own worst enemy as much as the patriarchal systems and any person with a skeleton in their closet (i.e. everybody) are. Part of the tragedy is that there is no opportunity to learn or grow due to these systems and a false ideal of advocacy, down to vigilantism, as hopeless in actualizing justice, as well as the bottomless hole Cassie has that cannot be filled by any tangible means (hence the road rage scene, which just more of the film's simultaneous split of observably erratic, problematic, and unhelpful behavior from Cassie towards her aims, as well as empathy for her tragic, traumatized existence without hope for catharsis). Any demands for literal realism, vs. the film's interest in realism of the feelings involved, are going to be disappointed, and I don't think we're meant to wholly align with Cassie at all, or give her props for staying within a justifiable legality. This isn't a didactic film, but one that asks questions, and has the audacity to make its thesis one of the toughest asks of an audience- to feel immense empathy for a lead who is also a warning sign, when that warning sign is in step with cynicism about our current state of affairs and involves becoming sober to our own cognitive dissonance as preferable within it. It's a giant twist of exposing paradoxes that are physical, emotional, philosophical, and spiritual.

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soundchaser
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Re: Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020)

#27 Post by soundchaser » Sat Apr 17, 2021 2:01 am

I watched this tonight...makes for a very interesting first date movie! Not a lot to say that hasn’t been said upthread, but some things that frustrate me a little bit:
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The language Joe uses when comforting Al after the murder read, to me, as the kind of phrases used to soothe rape survivors — “it’s not your fault,” “everything’s going to be ok,” — and I thought the film was trying to tell us something about being put in a horrible situation and the inability to feel catharsis after being viewed as something (a murderer, a rape victim, etc.) for the rest of your life. I thought that was a wrinkle, but an interesting one, and a somewhat fitting way of “marking” Al in lieu of doing it physically. The rest of the ending felt a little cheap by comparison, and I especially don’t like the way Bo Burnham’s character arc was handled. The twist works as a gut punch, I think, and I appreciate therewillbeblues’s reading of Cassie’s inability to forgive Ryan as a sign of how far she’s gone down her self-destructive rabbit hole, but it feels needlessly cruel not to have an example of *any* man not largely complicit in rape culture. And I suppose that’s the point...but relying on the police for your catharsis rubs against that idea and makes the whole thing feel off. Maybe someone smarter than I can square the circle, as it were, but it feels very rough to me and I’m not sure what to feel about the whole thing.

EDIT: In hindsight, this reads as very “#notallmen”; and it’s possible that my issue with the film is an emotional rather than logical one.
Mulligan was fantastic, though. All in on her for the Oscar.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020)

#28 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Apr 17, 2021 3:07 am

For what it's worth, I think your feeling from the ending matches mine on a first viewing and is exactly the point: to feel rather than try to analyze our way into rationalizing away that uncomfortable feeling, though obviously we're going to do that, just as Cassie tries to legitimize her own emotions into tangible forms that shield her incapacity to achieve catharsis. What was once frustrating now seems to be as a provocation that is asking us to engage in broad confrontation in a mirror without didactically issuing a commandment to examine ourselves through Cassie's ethos. We all have skeletons in our closets, just like the character in question, and that's the way it is- but maybe we can have less of them moving forward if we take a look now, and react differently than he did when confronted in that room. At least when we're ruminating on the film in the safety of our thoughts without an audience, which, as the film makes clear, still isn't safe for most of us.

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Re: Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020)

#29 Post by pianocrash » Sat Apr 17, 2021 3:16 am

soundchaser wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 2:01 am
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The rest of the ending felt a little cheap by comparison, and I especially don’t like the way Bo Burnham’s character arc was handled. The twist works as a gut punch, I think, and I appreciate therewillbeblues’s reading of Cassie’s inability to forgive Ryan as a sign of how far she’s gone down her self-destructive rabbit hole, but it feels needlessly cruel not to have an example of *any* man not largely complicit in rape culture. And I suppose that’s the point...but relying on the police for your catharsis rubs against that idea and makes the whole thing feel off. Maybe someone smarter than I can square the circle, as it were, but it feels very rough to me and I’m not sure what to feel about the whole thing.

EDIT: In hindsight, this reads as very “#notallmen”; and it’s possible that my issue with the film is an emotional rather than logical one.
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Cassie's dad is probably the only non-complicit male in the picture, and maybe that's why his few moments onscreen are so enjoyable (apologies to Sigmund Freud).

As for Al and Joe, I'm pretty sure they would slink by on a technicality (thanks to their immense white boy privilege/social standing and most definite access to high-ranking lawyers), because why not? It feels like the logical extension of this film's cynicality, which is probably also why Bo got trampled, too. Likewise, maybe that sequence of Cassie walking amongst the trees (with a third or fourth homage to Night Of The Hunter, I apologize for losing track of them all) was completely necessary in lieu of Bo's (or anyone's) additional character building, but who knows? The more I think about this film, the less and less it has to say.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020)

#30 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Apr 17, 2021 3:20 am

pianocrash wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 3:16 am
The more I think about this film, the less and less it has to say.
You seem pretty committed to engaging with it on a purely logical and realist level, and are ignoring the interviews and other posts that indicate alternative intentions of and by the filmmaker, so that makes sense, logically

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Re: Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020)

#31 Post by pianocrash » Sat Apr 17, 2021 3:31 am

therewillbeblus wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 3:20 am
pianocrash wrote:
Sat Apr 17, 2021 3:16 am
The more I think about this film, the less and less it has to say.
You seem pretty committed to engaging with it on a purely logical and realist level, and are ignoring the interviews and other posts that indicate alternative intentions of and by the filmmaker, so that makes sense, logically
Realism is fine, yeah, but I just didn't find any life/oomph/palpable humanity in PYW, to be completely honest. Somehow it feels like everyone saw a completely different movie, and I am totally okay with that, too! ](*,)

I'm going to listen to the commentary this weekend, and then I'm out, I swear!

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020)

#32 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Apr 17, 2021 3:52 am

I hope you don't feel pushed out, that's the opposite of my intention. I mentioned in the Oscars writeup thread that I fully expect people here to struggle with this film, and not liking it is totally fine. You're not the first and won't be the last, and I'm not planning on responding to every post in my baby's thread (I swear!) but I felt obligated to challenge your last line that seemed to be indicating that you've reinforced your reading and temperament toward the film, without looking to the supplemental interpretations from the filmmakers and others here who have made claims that the film is saying something other than what you've mentioned. Obviously back out if you wish, but I hope you listen to the commentary and keep posting in this thread, even if you stick to your stance, because if you're engaging with alternative ideas and rejecting them and stating why, that will help me to continue examining my own perceptions, and so on and so forth. It's what makes this forum great, and this in particular is a film ripe for discussion and the opposite of a hivemind-breeding work.

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Re: Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020)

#33 Post by brundlefly » Wed Apr 21, 2021 8:16 am

Totally respect that Emerald Fennell made a more interesting movie than the one to which I was looking forward, though it’s one I find frustrating in unsatisfying ways. The trailer teased such an ingenious variation on rape-revenge movies that I remembered it more than the film it preceded; that a lot of its path proves more I Gently Mussed the Groundskeeping on Your Grave to Make a Point :0 seems proper upbraid for those seeking easy catharsis.

Enjoy the idea upthread to frame this as a superhero movie, but there are coincidences that explicitly recall Heath Ledger’s Joker. The smeared lipstick, the nurse’s uniform, lolling one’s head out of a car window. Cassie’s obviously not a villain, but could be seen as a chaotic trickster element in the lives of her marks using a moment of surprise to try to force them to reframe how they think. Fennell also likes to tease and bait and switch, whether it’s a sloppy ketchup stain or putting the words of common excuses into mouths of her villains or the form of her movie.

But Cassie holds men in low enough esteem I wonder if she thinks they’ll learn anything from the experience. As pianocrash and twbb mention, there’s no evidence of growth (I wonder if the hoods she brings in are penitent former victims, but they’re smartly never explained). There’s an assumed futility to her actions, and until Ryan shows up she’s stuck in a cycle. Endless joyless cycles, survivor’s guilt, and grief are part and parcel of revenge flicks, but this one doesn’t have the questionable satisfaction of a violent outlet.
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The only onscreen violence happens *to* Cassie. And I doubt she’s ever killed anyone. (We know Adam Brody’s character is alive because we find out he later told Sam Richardson’s character about the encounter – and that’s likely the outcome of most of her actions, that she becomes some “crazy bitch” anecdote to share with the bros.) Even when she reaches Nina’s rapist, she doesn’t want to kill or dismember him, but carve her name on his body alongside the tattoo of his fiancée’s. And I like that the hashmark colors go unexplained, and like twbb’s idea that they’re less secret code than part of her aesthetic because it seems both fractured and very teenaged, because she’s stuck there. (And I love how the movie never tries to hide Mulligan’s age. She’s playing a character younger than she is, and especially against her regular wardrobe and all the pastels, she looks worn down.)

Cassie wants the world to remember her friend, and is on some level she is role-playing Nina, restaging the situation that undid her but with Nina as the victor. Even identifies herself with that name to Nina’s rapist, then brings her into the room with that great monologue. Fennell doesn’t have Cassie, say, dress the same way every night; not only are those particulars of Nina’s assault irrelevant, but we’re obviously meant to see a spectrum of women, and giving Cassie one crimefighting uniform instead of a variety of costumes would compound the impracticality of the scenario. But the method is self-abuse even if she knows the outcome. She’s subjecting herself to a lot of unwanted hands and mouths so that she might jump up and wag a finger. And if one of the Nice Guys she attracts decides he’s willing to be very not-nice even after that? Fennell says in her commentary something like she can’t imagine a instance where there’s violence between a man and a woman and the man doesn’t have the upper hand. And as unbearable as the climax is, it makes total sense: Cassie (Cassandra, the original woman no one believed), like Nina, has become a victim of the same man. Al is still a criminal who insists he’s done nothing wrong, just as Ryan’s still an enabler without the fortitude to speak out.

My own problems with the movie aren’t significant but they’re matters of taste. I admire, for instance, how Fennell commits to the sudden romcom turn. She says in one of those interviews that she loves that form unironically. I do not. Maybe it’s the only effective shorthand/device to explain why Cassie would let her guard down after a self-effacing spit-slurp and a few shared rude jokes. Ryan’s functionally important as he refocuses Cassie’s cycle into a quest and his betrayal re-energizes it. (I saw that betrayal a mile away, but am impressed by how irredeemable Fennell made him.) What threw me was how committed Mulligan was to the romcom elements. She has this eager-to-please smile that just doesn’t fit the character she helped make. And in the scene where she begs Ryan to give her another chance, she was 1000% Kate Hudson. Successful device perhaps at which I bristled.
Another device – one I mostly enjoyed and admired – is that Fennell mostly cast TV actors as Cassie’s adversaries. Not that there are any hard lines between mediums, Mulligan obviously started there as well. Fennell said in her commentary that she wanted familiar friendly faces opposite her, which makes great shortcut sense, but I was struck more by the power imbalance. Mulligan’s going to win all those acting battles without much effort. And casting Lowell, whom I know primarily as Bash from GLOW and who radiates niceness, was another great upending of expectations. The biggest exception is Molina (uncredited, for some reason) – and of course that encounter is unlike the others. (Also feel his character’s why the movie doesn’t only “let the police handle it” at the end; Cassie’s counting on the lawyer’s need for redemption.)

(Mintz-Plasse – forever McLovin – is another exception, and though he’s fed a lot of rope by the production department (dreamcatchers, Criterion-approved posters) and by name-dropping David Foster-Wallace, he’s given more character in which to capably ooze around.)

But Fennell’s enamored enough of her performers that when one gets away from her she doesn’t reel him in. And after Max Greenfield drops his one hilarious line that this is like a 90s film, he goes full-on Schmidtshow with leaps and double-takes. It’s a confrontational pall to cast at that point in the film – because of what just happened, and because of what little time there is left – and even if its flippancy served purpose I found it hard to shake off. That and Cassie’s final line. I’m predisposed to dismiss any sentence, never mind any movie, that ends with an emoticon. the end lol.
The other thing that put me off Promising Young Woman – which I still think is interesting and at least pretty great – is that I immediately followed it with Kitty Green’s The Assistant. A terrible double-feature, don’t do that to them. But I took to the latter film’s determined, deadening uniformity immediately, and I feel that’s the feature with which I’ll live longer.
Last edited by brundlefly on Wed Apr 21, 2021 10:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020)

#34 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Apr 21, 2021 9:34 am

Great thoughts, brundlefly! I’m glad you got something out of it even if you didn’t love the film. One brief point:
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To your observation about Mulligan’s uncharacteristic commitment to the rom-com tone switch, I think this is an example of Cassie’s previous ‘self’ coming through. You’re right that it’s unfamiliar to the character she’s made as we’ve seen her so far but there are plenty of hints that Cassie used to be an entirely different person with an entirely different temperament. It’s also an example of that culture-bound aesthetic translated into false expectations. This Cassie represents the woman who believes in Hollywood romances, finding the “perfect” partner who is a purified moralist, and living happily ever after. Such an unrealistic expectation ironically mirrors what Broken Cassie needs at this point- she can’t bring herself to be in a relationship with anyone who has a single stain on their record, as she’s committed to a life without any cognitive dissonance, and yet she also still has that idealist and little girl inside her who pines for this connection, who desperately wants and needs to smile that way. It’s a brief vacation to paradise before the rug is swept out from under her and us, not entirely dissimilar to the last act of BlackKklansman.

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Re: Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020)

#35 Post by Luke M » Sun Apr 25, 2021 8:20 pm

Not sure if this review has been posted but it's everything I've been thinking but couldn't put down into words. Perfect review.

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Re: Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020)

#36 Post by TheKieslowskiHaze » Sun Apr 25, 2021 8:25 pm

Luke M wrote:
Sun Apr 25, 2021 8:20 pm
Not sure if this review has been posted but it's everything I've been thinking but couldn't put down into words. Perfect review.
That's a good, interesting, and convincing take. Thanks for posting.

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Re: Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020)

#37 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Apr 25, 2021 8:40 pm

The problem with that article is that she admits that she's looking for something the filmmakers weren't interested in, and quotes Fennell but only in bits that don't reveal the anti-didactic messaging she's talked about plenty, while assuming that didacticism is what's happening and launching said out-of-context quotes against her emotionally-skewed view of how she saw the film as evidence(!?) I can understand the issues she takes, but it's a poorly researched and argued essay that is a full-throated rejection yet it's rejecting an interpretation that is completely solipsistic. I fully expect most people to reject some aspects of this film, but it's not that hard to do it with precision rather than in a vacuum and calling it objectively problematic. I don't personally like the film for any of the reasons she's claiming its operating on, so I'm not offended by the points and largely agree that if that was happening it'd be annoying, but I also have little tolerance for echo chambered hostility pitched at the audience that's trying to engage with the film self-reflectively, which isn't an easily digestible, or self-gratifying, thing to do. It's pretty condescending behavior for someone unwilling to look up and inward aimed that those who are.

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Re: Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020)

#38 Post by Toland's Mitchell » Sun Apr 25, 2021 9:53 pm

It seems the author of that review expected and wanted Promising Young Woman to be a Tarantino-esque revenge thriller, and rejected the film when it defied that expectation. That isn't the film Fennell set out to make. The author made good points and I fully get why she, along with others, didn't like the film, however there are problems within her review that have already been addressed in the post above.

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Re: Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020)

#39 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Apr 25, 2021 10:00 pm

Right, and what the film- I feel, explicitly- is doing is subverting that masculine-violent-empowerment desire intentionally as a very relevant theme vital to understanding the movie.

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Re: Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020)

#40 Post by mhofmann » Tue Apr 27, 2021 6:26 am

The author of that article didn't expect a revenge thriller, she just lays out that even a revenge thriller plot would have been much better than the utterly dishonest, completely surface-level, self-congratulatory film we got.

This article couldn't be more spot on. The more I think about Promising Young Woman and what it tries to convey (or fails at conveying) and how it does it, the more I begin to despise it.

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Re: Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020)

#41 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Apr 27, 2021 10:18 am

That's how you read it? Conversely I think that these criticisms are only glancing at the surface, with too much discomfort to go any deeper. The ending for me is ironic rather than superficial, fitting within this depiction of female disempowerment and the fatalistic compromise that is necessary to get justice. The ending is far more tragic in my eyes than the superficial emoji ‘gotcha’ moment indicates. Rape revenge films have often operated under an ethos of the vigilante utilizing the same modality of force as the perpetrator, and sticking to surface-level reptilian catharsis to counter primitive violations, and so this film is directly subverting that in multiple ways. One is that surrender of powerlessness to these systems, which is shocking and goes against the Tarantino violent revenge many wanted. But it’s significant that it’s about a woman trying to do this and not a man; she’s bound to these systems and it’s devastating.

My impressions are that people go into movies like these to see female empowerment, specifically through women adopting the masculine violent characteristics to beat them at their own game cathartically, but this film had a woman using inter-gendered characteristics to fight, and refused to yield the real barriers to exercising this. It’s difficult to see a film about a vigilante engaging with limitations, but more poignant and powerful if met on its level. I'm going to try to step back from this thread now since I’ve already explained my defenses at length, but it seems that nearly everyone except for a couple of posters who took issue with the film- here or in the thinkpiece criticisms published online- are ignoring any opportunities to engage with the documented intentions and other readings, and saying stuff like "the more I think about it, the film serves my dishonest impression." Such one-liner dismissals following pejorative adjectives say nothing about how the film fails, and so they read like the construction workers' projectile reactions to Cassie staring back at them. It's a film that isn't preaching but is only asking that we sit with non-answers and anti-catharsis. This is a challenging expectation from a film, and may be too difficult to sit with as it looks back at you, but that doesn't mean it's shallow.

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Re: Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020)

#42 Post by mhofmann » Tue Apr 27, 2021 11:27 am

If the point is to show female disempowerment then why tack on an utterly, utterly tone-deaf ending in the first place? Obviously that must have been meant as some kind of redemptive closure; otherwise Fennell would have rolled the credits over
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Cassie's burning corpse or after a happy wedding, which both would have been much stronger endings. The way the film ends as-is is conveying a strongly anti-feminist message: the female protagonist has to die because she stupidly brought herself into a situation where the risk of being killed was more than tangible and, oh yeah, the police is here at the end to fix everything. All is well. </s> Nope. Just nope. I read somewhere that Fennell didn't want to give audiences a "Hollywood" ending, but guess what she did here in the last few minutes? Exactly, it's a massive cop-out (no pun intended), with a winking smiley as the ugly cherry on top.
There is a lot more that doesn't hold water here, not even in a film, and especially not one that wants to be taken seriously. This review on Letterboxd does an excellent job at exposing the surface-level simple-mindedness of the plot, and so does this one. Getting half-raped by "nice guys" almost every night, but Cassie escapes unharmed every time because what... she gave them a stern lecturing? ](*,) Of course, that must be how the world works. Maybe in the mind of a woke millennial like Fennell, but not in real life.

Forget any Tarantino-like rape-revenge expectation -- that honestly wouldn't be needed to turn this a good film. There are a lot of directions this could have been taken toward to get something way more compelling: dealing with a friend's suicide (nope, Nina's fate is never even spelled out - it remains a convenient plot device on the sidelines that is tiptoed around), dealing with grief (nope, Cassie's inner thoughts remain completely unclear throughout the film), taking on the justice system (nope, Alfred Molina's redemption within 2 minutes is an utterly laughable plot device), and more, but the movie squanders every possibility of being something deeper and more honest.
Last edited by mhofmann on Tue Apr 27, 2021 2:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Brian C
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Re: Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020)

#43 Post by Brian C » Tue Apr 27, 2021 11:48 am

Is there any reason to think the Molina character’s about-face came in 2 minutes? My recollection is that he was in a rough state when she found him, implying that his breakdown was already in progress when she got there.

Also it’s not really a “plot device” since none of the plot really revolves around it.

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Re: Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020)

#44 Post by mhofmann » Tue Apr 27, 2021 11:54 am

Sure, sure, but the character is barely introduced and bam, we're supposed to suspend our disbelief that the protagonist can forgive this guy just like that. Neither the audience nor she knows him. Molina is much less of a fleshed-out person than a caricature of one, like many of the other characters in the film. Also, it is clearly a plot device that is conveniently used for the cop-out ending.

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Re: Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020)

#45 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Apr 27, 2021 12:17 pm

Coming back just to ask you to please use the spoiler tags to hide the significant spoilers in your second-to-last post, mhofmann. You're free not to like the film, but that's no reason to ruin it for those who haven't seen it yet.

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Re: Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020)

#46 Post by Brian C » Tue Apr 27, 2021 12:23 pm

I guess I just don’t see any reason to suspend disbelief. It’s always unsettling when someone acts in the exact opposite way of what one expects. And Carrie isn’t out to “forgive” anyone - she’s out to make them understand the pain they caused, and so when Molina’s character is already experiencing a breakdown of conscience, her mission is already achieved.

I think that marketing the film as a revenge movie really did a lot of damage. It’s certainly affected how people have experienced and processed the film. And as a result, it seems like there are a lot of people who have misinterpreted the movie as being about “revenge” or “justice” when it’s really just about a woman whose conscience prevents her from understanding everyone else’s indifference.

That said, I’m not sure I disagree with you about the ending. At the end it actually does become a revenge movie, although of course that gets flipped around on the audience. But I thought it struck a discordant tone myself and while I appreciate all the defenses of it, I haven’t been persuaded that it works.

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Re: Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020)

#47 Post by brundlefly » Tue Apr 27, 2021 12:25 pm

mhofmann wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 11:54 am
Sure, sure, but the character is barely introduced and bam, we're supposed to suspend our disbelief that the protagonist can forgive this guy just like that. Neither the audience nor she knows him. Molina is much less of a fleshed-out person than a caricature of one, like many of the other characters in the film. Also, it is clearly a plot device that is conveniently used for the cop-out ending.
Oh, no, character who's basically in one scene is not a "fleshed-out person." You don't like the movie, and that's fine, but seem to be digging yourself the same hole as the person who wrote the substack in that you're determined to denounce every single element as utter failure. Movies that radically shift genre and tone may be telling the audience to not scrutinize the logic of their contents. Devices are allowed to be devices -- though that scene is more about what happens in that room and what happened long ago than the throwaway shot in the conclusion.

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Re: Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020)

#48 Post by bottlesofsmoke » Tue Apr 27, 2021 12:54 pm

I actually really liked the Molina scene because, coming on the heels of the what happens to Brie and Britton, it deviated from the pattern and took me by surprise, as well as demonstrating that remorse was possible without it being shoved in someone’s face.

Overall I enjoyed the movie, I found it to be very funny and I guess I never took it very seriously as a “this is something that could really happen” type of way and didn’t spend much time trying to analyze it like that. Instead I viewed it something like a Spike Lee movie, where things done and said in order to make certain points, like putting all the cliche “nice guys” lines “like you don’t need makeup” right alongside the standard excuses for sexual assault. Not everything worked for me (and I felt some of the references to Night of the Hunter to be odd) but ultimately, it got my wife and I thinking and talking a lot about it, what it was trying to say, and the subject of sexual assault and justice in our culture, which I think, at least, makes it successful in part of what it was trying to do. I can definitely see why some people dislike it, but I tend to be more forgiving to messy movies if they are trying something different and risky.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020)

#49 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Apr 27, 2021 1:15 pm

mhofmann wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 11:27 am
If the point is to show female disempowerment then why tack on an utterly, utterly tone-deaf ending in the first place?
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Obviously that must have been meant as some kind of redemptive closure; otherwise Fennell would have rolled the credits over Cassie's burning corpse or after a happy wedding, which both would have been much stronger endings. The way the film ends as-is is conveying a strongly anti-feminist message: the female protagonist has to die because she stupidly brought herself into a situation where the risk of being killed was more than tangible and, oh yeah, the police is here at the end to fix everything. All is well. </s> Nope. Just nope. I read somewhere that Fennell didn't want to give audiences a "Hollywood" ending, but guess what she did here in the last few minutes? Exactly, it's a massive cop-out (no pun intended), with a winking smiley as the ugly cherry on top.
What makes you think her action is "stupid"?
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Most people I've talked to agree that Cassie left the handcuff loose intentionally to commit suicide, and with what we know about the character and her posthumous actions, there seems to be evidence supporting that reading. I think the Hollywood ending is a facade, though I can appreciate how it doesn't work for people taken at face-value. There's something incredibly tragic and ironic about how Cassie needs the very systems that failed to support her friend to support her cause in the end. What would be a stronger feminist ending, for Cassie to rise above her limitations to actualize what the systems don't support? That would implicitly devalue the overwhelming tone of the film- that women in today's society cannot exercise their wills to achieve justice. I don't see the police "fixing everything" as a happy ending, because they aren't fixing anything. Cassie is dead, her friend is still dead, these guys might not face charges with the limited evidence available to convict. It's more of a BlackKklansman-type wink ending that has no destabilizing rug-ripping coda- which maybe would have made it stronger and more obviously bittersweet- but still insinuates that this kind of justice can only happen in the movies, and even there if we are reflecting real-life power imbalances in justice, the hero has to die to achieve it. But as Brian, says, it's just as much if not more about how Cassie's own inability to get out of her own way forces this move. It's not an endorsement of her behavior, it's tragic wall-to-wall.
mhofmann wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 11:27 am
There is a lot more that doesn't hold water here, not even in a film, and especially not one that wants to be taken seriously. This review on Letterboxd does an excellent job at exposing the surface-level simple-mindedness of the plot, and so does this one. Getting half-raped by "nice guys" almost every night, but Cassie escapes unharmed every time because what... she gave them a stern lecturing? ](*,) Of course, that must be how the world works. Maybe in the mind of a woke millennial like Fennell, but not in real life.
I've already mentioned this, but I don't think the film works if taken as a plausible narrative but instead it exists in an exaggerated world that reflects truths about the cognitive dissonance we partake in, heightens the experiences of women trying to contend with a patriarchal landscape, and ultimately is about feelings that come from a milieu that defaults to invalidation because people just can't cope with difficult subject matters left as-is without a solution. It's pretty damn self-reflexive to these conversations that are ignited by lobbed criticisms venturing as far away from self-reflection as possible.
bottlesofsmoke wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 12:54 pm
Overall I enjoyed the movie, I found it to be very funny and I guess I never took it very seriously as a “this is something that could really happen” type of way and didn’t spend much time trying to analyze it like that. Instead I viewed it something like a Spike Lee movie, where things done and said in order to make certain points, like putting all the cliche “nice guys” lines “like you don’t need makeup” right alongside the standard excuses for sexual assault. Not everything worked for me (and I felt some of the references to Night of the Hunter to be odd) but ultimately, it got my wife and I thinking and talking a lot about it, what it was trying to say, and the subject of sexual assault and justice in our culture, which I think, at least, makes it successful in part of what it was trying to do. I can definitely see why some people dislike it, but I tend to be more forgiving to messy movies if they are trying something different and risky.
This is a great post, and I appreciate you likened it to Spike Lee, as I noticed a similar comparison to his last couple efforts (and just posted about one above before reading yours). Glad to know I'm not the only one approaching the film this way.

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Mr Sausage
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Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell, 2020)

#50 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Apr 27, 2021 1:29 pm

Brian C wrote:I guess I just don’t see any reason to suspend disbelief. It’s always unsettling when someone acts in the exact opposite way of what one expects. And Carrie isn’t out to “forgive” anyone - she’s out to make them understand the pain they caused, and so when Molina’s character is already experiencing a breakdown of conscience, her mission is already achieved.
Yeah, Cassie’s pattern is always to see if the other person is willing to take responsibility for their role. She only starts the revenge when that isn’t met, and her revenge is pointedly to get the other person into a scenario where they will understand the pain of sexual assault on a more personal level. Not needing to torment the already tormented and repenting Molina is in keeping with that.

Also, sending Molina the tape can’t be a plot device since it ends the plot rather than moves it forward.

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