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Quendrith Johnson


Quendrith Johnson is filmfestivals.com Los Angeles Correspondent covering everything happening in film in Hollywood... Well, the most interesting things, anyway.
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Every Promising Young Woman Should See Carey Mulligan’s Movie of Same Name

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

AOC, or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is the US Congressional representative from the 14th district in New York who just revealed she is a "survivor of sexual assault," and this is where we are in the zeitgeist right now. Disclosures like this are no longer career-wrecking shamers, but a kind of re-purposed empowerment for many women. In context, her description of the situation is analogous to working with the opposing party in Congress. And AOC is certainly the proverbial 'promising young woman' who made good. Well, there's a movie in contention for Award Season 2021 that speaks exactly to these issues.

While this review comes after most other critics and reviewers have weighed in on the Jan. 25, 2020 release, PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN, from Focus Features starring Carey Mulligan, it is timely due to the mood in the ether as well as the VOD availability of this film now for 48-hour rentals on outlets like YouTube for example. So what's there to to know about it?

It’s a debut film from UK-born Emerald Fennell,  a writer, actor, and now director. A lot has been said about it. What hasn’t been talked about is the emotional resonance hit here for women, and girls, as almost no other film does.

CareyMulliganPYW2021

The spectrum of movies like this runs from Jodie Foster in THE ACCUSED (1988) to GONE GIRL (2014), on the periphery as a start. There’s also the Roger Ebert deemed “sick, reprehensible and contemptible” 1978 movie I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE as the nadir of the genre, with a trailer so horrifying it is not worth adding in here. But, and this is the important point, that film was originally titled? “Day of the Woman,” which is an eerie echo for PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN.

Clearly, there is nothing scarier than a woman with an agenda, a plan, and the will to execute that plan. Demure is the preferred flavor?

Films like this are difficult to view, especially for survivors and their families, even in the #MeToo epoch when the tables appear to have turned on some.

Questions arise from watching a movie like PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN, such as? ‘Who is complicit?’ 'What does Bros before Hos really mean?' And how was that okay to say for so long?

The fact that the picture is set against the backdrop of the medical profession screams a whole other layer of questions. For example, who gives out the kits, finds (or doesn’t find) clinical evidence? How do we measure male voices of authority vs female voices, from doctors, to lawyers, to fathers? Say the father doesn’t believe the daughter, then where does justice begin, or end, for example.

There’s another argument to be made that a female audience will react much differently than a male audience.

That can also be applied to a female film reviewer watching this as opposed to a male critic viewing the same material.

Carey Mulligan’s target-aimed "Cassie" hits a bullseye for both genders, though.

In the beginning? She is the virago on a mission. In the end? Cassandra (named for the siren) does the noble self-effacing thing. For those looking into the mythos here, Cassandra is King Priam's daughter violated by Ajax and forced to see the future and do nothing about it. Why? Because she is cursed by Apollo to never be believed.

This is not a movie that pulls any punches, yet it elegantly injects the salient points with hypodermic precision. In the act of viewing Emerald Fennell’s treatise here, you become part of a wider dialogue, if only in the privacy of your own mind.

What makes PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN a contender, not just for Carey Mulligan’s role, the writer/director, plus husband and wife producing team of Margot Robbie and Tom Ackerley?  Maybe the visceral feeling that there is nothing more frightening than a truth uncovered once it has been laid to rest.

What makes it a contender for audiences? Something much more complicated for many who may have had to contend with similar scenarios. Maybe without a body count, but maybe with their own bodies.

Standby for the preview, then see PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN for yourself

 

 

Be prepared to sit with the scenes long after the credits roll. PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN is a silver bullet, and a cathartic trigger for those who keep their own secrets on this subject matter.

Visit Cassie & Nina here.

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About Quendrith Johnson

Johnson Quendrith

LA Correspondent for filmfestivals.com


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