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Review: Promising Young Woman – “This is modern horror”

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What a week this is turning into. Synchronic just landed on USiTunes and now, in a mad flurry, they also get Promising Young Woman and News Of The World.

$19.99 for a 48h rental and it’s almost as if cinemas aren’t shut. The cluster of movie delays hasn’t ruined my entire year. Greenland has been sat there as a rental for a while, too. It’s getting to a point where I might just have to rent them all.

It’s enough to make you hate living in the U.K. if there weren’t enough reasons, already. Obviously, there are bigger problems in the world right now, but I think it’s fair to say film lovers have realised how much we’ve missed films.

The cinema.
The smell of overpriced hot dogs.
New content.

This is the week that the latter at least gets put right.

I’d heard great things (you can read Hillary’s review here), but frantically avoided others. There are way too many spoilers out there. As we know, the logic in staggered film releases is starting to look less and less logical.

Let’s focus on the positives. It’s finally here.

The start of Promising Young Woman is likely to go down as an all-timer. Staking its claim really early on, it’s clear this is so much more than a #MeToo champion. You get three suited men, drunk in a club. In the distance, Carey Mulligan is looking wasted. Step forward a knight in shining armour to take her home. Via his place. Then? My favourite fourth wall break in a long time.

It was pointed out to me recently that Mad ‘ol Jack gives the audience a glance, in The Shining, just after he’s chastised Wendy, who’s sat cowering on the bed. He’s deranged, and losing it. He’s had enough.

This look from Carey Mulligan — who’d be my choice for the Oscar, despite Vanessa Kirby’s superb turn, in the equally cathartic Pieces Of A Woman — is equally chilling. She looks deranged. Is she losing it? Has she had enough?

The film immediately feels…. dangerous. And all the more refreshing because of it.

It’s. Actually. Got. Something. To. Say.

Our knight just picked up Patrick Bateman and he doesn’t even know it. Unlucky for him. But, much like the phenomenal American Psycho, we’re not too sorry about whatever might follow. Because the guy is a bad, bad man and Carey Mulligan and Emerald Fennell (outrageously talented, both), are far too smart to sledgehammer this fact home. The film uses wit and all of our modern fearsto jab home instead.

Single fears?
Parental fears?
Not being able to protect our love one, fears?
Jab, jab, jab.

As the purple neon title cards roll and another soundtrack banger blares out, I’m already totally hooked. If I’m honest, a bit in love. The film is already delivering on what I’d hoped it would. Carey Mulligan seemingly walking down the street, with what appears to be blood on her leg.

What happened? What has she done? Because, based on how in control she seems, it’s unlikely something happened to her.

It may or may not be a homage to I Spit On Your Grave (1978) and it’s infamous poster. I think the film is too smart to miss that beat. No endorsements. No high fives, but it’s there if you want it. This is a film that exists within the real world.

The way people talk at work. At dinner. On dates. It just feels authentic. My mind drifted too, to the fact that Carey Mulligan now has an impeccable Neon induced double. She truly is a gem — and yet somehow she doesn’t seem to be revered anywhere near the level her work deserves.

When she’s joined at dinner by Alison Brie, I punched the air. This cast! (Brie is sensational in ‘The Rental’, so check that out).

It’s hard to pinpoint what I love most.

  • Mulligan staring down the three that whistle at her in the street? Who then implore her to “Stop staring!”, as they grow increasingly uneasy by her sure-footed and confident response?
  • The date montage? With another great song, from this great, great soundtrack? It just gets everything right for me.
  • Alfred Molina doing more acting in 3 minutes, than most have done in their careers?
  • Maybe the “GTFO of our house metaphor”, as Mulligan turns 30. Stifler’s Mum & The Kurgen as your parents? No wonder she’s not quite got everything straight in her head. Or maybe she has? The film is bold enough to play around with that notion.

My toes haven’t uncurled, yet. This certainly isn’t for everyone. The film turns wildly with a twist and some won’t accept the coincidence. But that would be a tragic, regretful mistake from them.

Grounded, but otherworldly, too. The use of neon Pharmacy signs would make Mann and Friedkin weep. The use of colour, in general, is incendiary. Soft blues against white walls. Multi-coloured nails. Hospital murals. So many vibrant colours.

This exchange will either sell it or burn it for you, as Mulligan again lets her date know she’s not as drunk/wasted as they thought/hoped:

“Hey Neil. I said I need to go home. Oh? Now you want me to leave”.

“I’m a nice guy. I thought we had a connection”.

“Oh, yeah? How old am I? …OK. An easier one. What’s my name?”

Fogell from ‘Superbad’, the scared shitless recipient now. Petrified at being called out for what he is… a predator.

The film is too smart with these character choices. It literally screams that what was sweet & innocent before, is done. 1999 and American Pie? Maybe they weren’t simpler times, after all.

This is modern horror. And I adored every second. Toxic by Britney, via strings? Check.

Try pigeonholing this into a genre, you cowards.

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