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“Promising Young Woman” promises to be the movie of the year

Courtesy of Focus Features

Every once in a while, Hollywood strikes gold: a plotline comes along that is too good to miss, with actors who develop their characters so well that the audience forgets they’re not real. These movies, these masterpieces, remind us of why art is essential to human existence.

“Promising Young Woman” is gold and more. 

The movie stars Carey Mulligan (of “Suffragette” and “The Great Gatsby” fame) as Cassandra Thomas – the “young woman” of titular note who has dropped out of med school and spends her weekends seeking out potential rapists. Yes, you read that right. She goes to bars, pretends she’s drunk, and stops the men before they can get anywhere. A true queen in high heels, she is motivated by the reason she dropped out of med school in the first place: the assault of her then-best-friend, Nina.

Mulligan plays the character better than a review could ever say. She carries so much emotion and power in every line, embodying the badass that every woman dreams to be— even spitting in someone’s coffee when the moment calls for it. The movie watches Cassandra go through every scenario in the book and then some, and Mulligan never once misses a beat. If you somehow don’t know Carey Mulligan’s name yet, you will after this. 

Bo Burnham, who plays Dr. Ryan Cooper, a friend of Cassandra’s from med school, also nails his character perfectly. As a devoted Burnham fan who’s watched everything from his comedy shows to his fantastic direction of the movie “Eighth Grade,” I can say wholeheartedly that this is one of the highlights of his career. Not to discount any of his other work, of course, but the performance is just that good. If nothing else motivates you to watch this film, at least let it be Burnham’s beautiful rendition of Paris Hilton’s hit “Stars are Blind.” Seriously. You truly have not experienced sheer happiness until you’ve witnessed it. 

Of course, the movie does not end there in terms of star power. To name a few, it also features Laverne Cox (LGBTQ+ advocate and star of “Orange is the New Black”), Alison Brie (who just crushed her role in the new movie “Happiest Season”), Connie Britton (TV’s sweetheart of “Nashville” and “Friday Night Lights”), and even an appearance by Max Greenfield, known as Schmidt in “New Girl”. 

No director could do these actors justice like Emerald Fennell, a name you might recognize for a myriad of reasons: she is a Primetime Emmy Award nominee for her writing of “Killing Eve” season 2 and an actress in Netflix’s hit series, “The Crown.” She has also starred in other hit movies, such as “Vita & Virginia” and “The Danish Girl”. Some of the shots seen in “Promising Young Woman” are truly breathtaking, showing that Fennell’s skill behind a camera is just as brilliant as her talent in front of it. 

Above all else, “Promising Young Woman” demands that the public pay attention to women who have been silenced, women who haven’t been believed for far too long, women who are told that what they wear and what they drink means more than their own bodies. The Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN) estimates that someone is sexually assaulted in the United States every 73 seconds. While sexual assault can happen to any person of any gender, RAINN also reported that every 1 in 6 American women has been the victim of attempted or committed rape. This is a dialogue that needs to be discussed, among all forms of art, among all educational and governmental systems, and among anyone and everyone who demands better of our country. “Promising Young Woman” makes sure that this conversation will never be forgotten. 

Mark my words – this is the movie of the year. If you lost faith in 2020, “Promising Young Woman” will restore it. Countdown the days to Christmas— this will be the best present ever. 

“Promising Young Woman” is in theaters everywhere on Friday, Dec. 25. 
If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, you are not alone. You can contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE or It’s free, confidential, and available 24/7 in English and Spanish.

Featured Image courtesy of canburak via Flickr Creative Commons

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“Promising Young Woman” promises to be the movie of the year