‘Promising Young Women’ delivers strong messages


Photo Courtesy of IMDb

“Promising Young Women” discussed rape culture and sends an important message to its watchers.

Some topics are tough to talk about and sometimes a movie can do a great job of getting the conversation going. 

Since the beginning of the Me Too movement, consent and the definition of sexual assault has been one of those difficult topics to discuss. “Promising Young Women” provides some nuance to the conversation by focusing on the “nice guys.”

“Promising Young Women” is about Cassie Thomas (Carey Mulligan) as she tries to get revenge and closure on events that happened in her past. She goes to bars on the weekends, pretends to be drunk and alone, and every weekend some guy comes up to her and takes her home. 

Nothing ever happens to her. She just wants to embarrass the men and teach them a lesson. It’s an important lesson that everyone should be learning about consent and drunk consent.

In the film, Cassie is motivated by the fact that her childhood best friend Nina was raped at a party by Al Monroe (Chris Lowell), while they both were in med school. 

As is often the case with sexual assault, the victim was ignored. No one believed in Nina, except Cassie, and once Nina dropped out so did Cassie to take care of her. Tragically, Nina ended up committing suicide because she couldn’t deal with the trauma of being raped. 

While all this is going on, Cassie ends up trying to form a relationship with an old friend and regular at her coffee shop job, Ryan (Bo Burnham). She ends up shocked, as video proves that his path crossed Nina’s during the rape.

She is determined to avenge Nina’s death by teaching Monroe a lesson during his bachelor party. As viewers will learn, her plan is risky and the stakes are high.

This film takes on a feminist approach with its message about “nice guys” at the bars, the friendly ones that always ask you if you’re okay. This film shows you not everyone is who they seem. A ride home isn’t always just a ride, and sometimes all a guy wants is to get into your pants. The film demonstrates that rape culture is not something to be taken lightly, no matter how “nice” someone is. 

The plot and the ending felt like it had some gaps like she perfectly planned for that specific scenario to happen? This seems unlikely. I was on the edge of my seat while everything was falling into place the way Cassie planned, I just feel there could have been an option that better helped the audience suspend disbelief. 

This film did its job raising awareness about some difficult things. It was originally scheduled to come out at the beginning of 2020, but had to be delayed because of COVID-19.

Mulligan did an amazing job portraying this role, and I felt her pain expressed through the screen. 

If you do plan on seeing this movie, be aware of trigger warnings though. The material covered here is sensitive to say the least. 

This film succeeds in making you care about a profoundly difficult situation from beginning to end. It is well worth the watch, and I would even watch it again. 

Rating: 4.5/5 stars