Promising Young Woman

Promising Young Woman (2020) - Rotten Tomatoes

Promising Young Woman: This Oscars, payback looks promising

Emerald Fennel’s revenge thriller is the first female directed debut to be nominated for best director at the Oscars. It is recognized, as some critics, as a bold step in the right direction for #Metoo movie portrayals. However, many controversies have occurred as to whether or not it’s the feminist masterpiece it pretends to be. Is Cassie Thomas seeking vengeance for her friend or homicide for her own blood lust? There is a criteria of seven main characteristics doctors look for when diagnosing sociopathy. Let’s see how many she checks…

Summary

Female vigilante, Cassie, is obsessed with getting revenge for her best friend Nina’s rape.

Commentary (spoilers)

Open to a bar. A group of “nice guys” chat while our vigilante, Cassie, pretends to be as drunk as a poet on payday. Jerry, nice guy #1, offers her a ride home. In the car, he changes his mind on the location while ‘2 Become 1’ plays on the radio. They go to his apartment, he shares with his roommate, and have a few drinks. She lies down in his room, which is garnished in strings of neon Christmas lights. That explains the roommate. He follows her in there and kisses her until she reveals her sober state.

Cassie walks home the next morning, barefoot, through the Ohioan roads. She’s so defiant. She completely disregards road safety, common sense, minimalization and cordiality in the next 20 seconds. As well as being an extremely messy eater. However, she does intimidate catcallers while ‘It’s Raining Men’ plays so…

Is Cassie Thomas a sociopath or feminist icon?
Sociopath- 0        Feminist Icon- 1

She gets home, presumably wipes the gallons of  ketchup that ran down her hand, arm, chest and leg, and gets out her little notepad and scrunchie. She flicks through hundreds of tally marks, which represent all the men she’s deceived and adds a new one. Then turns to her section of names and adds ‘Jerry’ in angsty capital letters. Like she’s writing her favourite boy band of the ’80’s on the back cover of her school notebook. What is this? ‘Pretty in Pink’? It’s now clear that Cassie has spent a good portion of her life tricking hundreds Ohio’s best degenerates and keeping tally. Which leads to questions like how does she never run into them again? Do none try to locate her? Do any of them have friends? How many bars are there in suburban Ohio? Is there an abnormally high male to female ratio in the area?

Is Cassie Thomas a sociopath or feminist icon?
Sociopath- 1      Feminist Icon- 1

Cassie, like many of the men she double crosses, lives with her parents. She lies to them also. It’s more of a character trait than a persona. She works in a coffee shop where she eats the food and ignores the customers.

We see snippets of nice guy #2 scene and her tallying him in her notebook.

In the coffee shop, while reading a book called ‘Careful How You Go’ and biting a straw attached to no beverage, an old medical school classmate enters. He insults her current career and jokingly tells her to spit in his coffee. She does and worse yet he drinks it. So much more disturbing than her tally of men she keeps under her bed. Some doctor he is. Mononucleosis is real, people.

Is Cassie Thomas a sociopath or feminist icon?
Sociopath- 2      Feminist Icon- 1

Cassie follows a makeup tutorial done by Emerald Fennel. She soon may be joining Quentin Tarantino, Woody Allen and Alfred Hitchcock in the category of directors that can’t get enough of the on screen spotlight. Cassie makes her way to nice guy #3’s house and watches him do cocaine. She pretends to fall asleep then grabs his face and snaps into sober mode. She makes him question his life choices then tells him off. How has she went this long without being beaten up? It seems a bit strange that she pretends to be drunk for hours and puts herself at risk of rape and  assault so she can tell a guy off and leave within forty seconds. Whatever makes her sadistic soul shine.

Sociopath sign 1- Being consistently  irresponsible

Is Cassie Thomas a sociopath or feminist icon?
Sociopath- 3       Feminist Icon- 1

Out comes the notebook again. She speaks to a picture of her dead friend. Cassie forgets it’s her 30th birthday.

Add to the list of basic things Cassie has forgot in this movie:
• Personal hygiene
• Shoes go on your feet
• Capitalization only goes at the beginning of words
• Straws are generally used for drinking with, not as a mouthpiece
• The customer is always right

Ryan reappears after realising Cassie gave him a false number. The desperation of this guy.

Basic things Ryan has forgot:
• The fact that he’s a doctor
• Fake number= no interest
• Plaid went out of fashion in ’96

The two, with their mutual fearlessness of transmittable diseases and out of date fashion trends, form a friendship. Cassie is a med school dropout and Ryan is a pediatric surgeon who lives in constant nervousness that other people will think he’s a pedophile. He invites her into his apartment, she says no then kicks over a bin. The girl is as unpredictable as her flirting methods. She shows up at his work the next day to apologise. They joke about children dying of Leukaemia. What a sweet, sweet couple.

Ryan tells us some more about the kids he’s killed and the people he works with. This triggers Cassie (the med school colleagues, not the children who lost their lives at the hands of her boyfriend) and she forms yet another revenge plot.

Part one: Cassie reconnects with old friend, Madison McPhee and tricks her into getting drunk. Cassie reminds her about how she didn’t believe Nina’s rape claims. Madison ruins a lovely white table cloth and Cassie pays someone to make Madison think she’s been raped. Cassie ignores Madison’s panicked phone calls. She marks it a success in her creepy little deception diary.

Sociopath sign 2 – repeatedly breaking the law

Is Cassie Thomas a sociopath or feminist icon?
Sociopath- 4    Feminist Icon- 1

Part two: Cassie lies to and lures a teenage girl into her car, drops her off somewhere and steal her phone. She waits a few hours, then heads to the university campus where she finds the girl’s mother, Dean Walker, and brings up the Nina claims again. She tells her that she took her daughter to a hotel room full of teenage boys with vodka and hands her phone over as evidence. Dean Walker calls her a sociopath. Finally, somebody understands my point! Turns out, Cassie dropped her off at a diner, three hours ago. She laughs and walks away.

Sociopath sign 3 –  repeatedly being deceitful

Is Cassie Thomas a sociopath or feminist icon?
Sociopath- 5        Feminist Icon- 1

Cassie stops her car at an intersection, blocking all traffic, then smashes a man’s tail lights and windscreen when he’s mad at her. Is there even a debate at this point?

Sociopath sign 4 – being impulsive or incapable of planning ahead

Is Cassie Thomas a sociopath or feminist icon?
Sociopath- 6        Feminist Icon- 1

She lies to Ryan about working late (which he calls her out on) then tells him she’s too tired to go out. All so she can go to a bar and play drunk til another guy takes her home. The guy turns out to be Paul. A friend of Jerry’s. The Spice Girls, Christmas light lover from scene one. Unfortunately, for her, she sees Ryan there. Trouble in paradise. Paul works out who she is and runs away crying.

Sociopath sign 5 – being impulsive or incapable of planning ahead

Is Cassie Thomas a sociopath or feminist icon?
Sociopath- 7       Feminist Icon- 1

Part 3: Cassie finds the lawyer assigned to Nina’s case and drives him into a nervous breakdown. She calls off whatever illegal activity she had in store for him and drives away.

She goes to Nina’s mum’s house and drinks a carton of juice and cries on the doorstep. She gets home and throws the journal in the bin and deletes all her accounts used for daily stalking. I’m sure you’ll agree this is a big step forward for our antisocial star.

She goes to reconcile with Ryan by making fun of fedoras and kissing him in the closed coffee shop. This move works out so well they have a whole montage of dancing to a Paris Hilton song and a dinner with Cassie’s parents.

Madison shows up at Cassie’s house after many, many phone calls. Cassie explains that nothing happened between Madison and “that guy” (You know, the one she paid to get her drunk and sleep next to her in a hotel bed?) Madison reveals she has video footage of Nina’s rape. And Dr Ryan Cooper plays a bigger role than we thought.

Cassie heads to the hospital where he threatens him and asks for the address of Al Munroe’s, Nina’s rapist, bachelor party. I guess this means things are over between the two of them. Relationships that begin with contaminating each other’s food don’t tend to last anyway.

Part 4: Cassie dresses up as a nurse stripper and drugs all the men except the groom.

Sociopath sign 6 – having a reckless disregard for their safety or the safety of others

Is Cassie Thomas a sociopath or feminist icon?
Sociopath- 8       Feminist Icon- 1

She takes Al upstairs and handcuffs him to the bed. She makes him cry and does what she does best: Speeches on “nice guys”. She gives a good summary on Nina’s character then tries to lacerate him with a knife.

Sociopath sign 7- lack of remorse

Is Cassie Thomas a sociopath or feminist icon?
Sociopath- 9       Feminist Icon- 1

This all goes horribly wrong however when he breaks out of the handcuffs and suffocated her with a pillow.

R.I.P. Cassie- Who’s sociopathic ways would be the death of her.

You had your evidence, Cassie, you didn’t need the nurse’s uniform. The next morning, Al and his best man Joe spend the morning of the wedding burning the body. Talk about a memorable stag night.

Part 5: On the day of the wedding, Cassie has been reported as a missing person for a few days. She has left evidence for the police to find and scheduled messages are sent to Ryan. Al is arrested during the ceremony. I have to say, Cassie’s plan relied a lot on a justice system which failed her in the first place.

Opinions

First line: “F*ck her! F*ck her! That’s just how business is done.”
Last line: (In scheduled message) “Love,  Cassie and Nina”
Best line: “Can you guess what every woman’s worst nightmare is?”

The good: The male casting, the soundtrack, the whole bachelor party
The bad: The coffee spit scene (not nice, folks. What’s worse, this was the scene they chose to represent the rape revenge thriller at the Oscars), having Laverne Cox as a character with no storyline of her own
The funny: Dinner with the parents?

Best character: Cassie’s dad
Worst character: Al and Ryan

Overall opinion: “Woah! Woah! Woah! What is this? Are you some kind of psycho or something?”

Rating: 6.5

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

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