‘Promising Young Woman’ Blows Away Sundance by Taking On Toxic Masculinity (and Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’)

Variety | 1/26/2020 | Kate Aurthur
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Writer-director Emerald Fennell’s debut feature, “Promising Young Woman,” drew an exuberant response at its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival Saturday night. The film, which will be released by Focus Features on April 17, is provocative — and will perhaps be divisive, particularly its ending. It’s a perfect talker for the #MeToo era.

It’s best for audiences to see “Promising Young Woman” cold, but the basic plot is that Carey Mulligan plays a 30-year-old woman named Cassie who lives with her parents, and works in a café. She has dropped out of medical school for reasons that become clear as the plot unfolds. But what audiences see immediately is that Cassie’s side gig is going out to bars and appearing so drunk that a man will take her home — but to say what she does once they do would be a spoiler. (The movie’s tagline is “Take Her Home and Take Your Chances.”) Cassie’s vengeful calling gets complicated when she meets a charming nice guy (Bo Burnham), with whom she went to med school — again, no spoilers!

Mulligan - Performance - Masterwork - Cassie - Cassie

Mulligan’s performance is a masterwork: Her Cassie is brilliant and witty; she’s also sad and tragic. Through Cassie, Fennell interrogates rape culture, masculinity and its discontents, womanhood as performance, and trauma.

The supporting players are well-cast, with the winning Burnham as a potential boyfriend; Alison Brie as a malignant med school friend; Laverne Cox as Cassie’s concerned boss; and Clancy Brown and Jennifer Coolidge as her helpless parents....
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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