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Promising Young Woman (2020)

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BAFTA nominations!

BEST FILM
THE FATHER Philippe Carcassonne, Jean-Louis Livi, David Parfitt
THE MAURITANIAN TBC
NOMADLAND Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey, Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Chloé Zhao
PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN Ben Browning, Emerald Fennell, Ashley Fox, Josey McNamara
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 Stuart Besser, Marc Platt

OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM
CALM WITH HORSES Nick Rowland, Daniel Emmerson, Joe Murtagh
THE DIG Simon Stone, Gabrielle Tana, Moira Buffini
THE FATHER Florian Zeller, Philippe Carcassone, Jean-Louis Livi, David Parfitt, Christopher Hampton
HIS HOUSE Remi Weekes, Martin Gentles, Edward Kings, Roy Lee
LIMBO Ben Sharrock, Irune Gurtubai, Angus Lamont
THE MAURITANIAN Kevin Macdonald, Rory Haines, Sohrab Noshirvani, M.B. Traven
MOGUL MOWGLI Bassam Tariq, Riz Ahmed, Thomas Benski, Bennett McGhee
PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN Emerald Fennell, Ben Browning, Ashley Fox, Josey McNamara
ROCKS Sarah Gavron, Ameenah Ayub Allen, Faye Ward, Theresa Ikoko, Claire Wilson
SAINT MAUD Rose Glass, Andrea Cornwell, Oliver Kassman

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
ANOTHER ROUND Tobias Lindholm, Thomas Vinterberg
MANK Jack Fincher
PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN Emerald Fennell
ROCKS Theresa Ikoko, Claire Wilson
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 Aaron Sorkin

Edited by ElectricBoogaloo
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Directors Guild of America nomination!

Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures
Lee Isaac Chung, Minari (A24)
Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman (Focus Features)
David Fincher, Mank (Netflix)
Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix)
Chloé Zhao, Nomadland (Searchlight Pictures)

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Promising Young Woman got 5 Academy Award nominations, including Carey Mulligan as Best Actress! Also...

Best Picture

Best Director

Best Original Screenplay

Best Film Editing

I don't agree with the Best Picture nomination one little bit, but 2020 was a nothing year for movies (for obvious reasons), and I don't think for a second it'll win.

Not gonna lie, though, I would not complain if Mulligan took home a statuette. 

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Promising Young Woman is my favourite of the nominees, though I expect it's probably second or (most likely) third in the standings for Best Picture behind Nomadland and Minari.

It's best chances for wins are Mulligan and Fennell (in screenplay)>.

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Quote

"Emerald always talked about the movie being a beautifully wrapped piece of candy," says Mulligan, "except when you open it and put it in your mouth, you realize it's full of poison."

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Fennell, who made her filmmaking debut with the short Careful How You Go, starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge, began pitching Promising Young Woman to potential buyers in 2017. Unsurprisingly, a dark comedy about rape was not for everyone.

"A lot of people had a very particular idea of how serious things ought to be discussed, so there was some resistance," says Fennell. Others wanted to commercialize the movie, sanding down the edges to make it into the kind of revenge film Fennell was trying desperately to subvert. But the execs at LuckyChap, a production company that counts Margot Robbie as a principal, and later at FilmNation and Focus Features, understood exactly what she was trying to do and, even better, applauded it.

With backers in place, she could find her Cassie. Robbie, who was now on board as a producer, might have seemed like the obvious choice, which is exactly why she and Fennell never even considered it. "The most delightful thing about Promising Young Woman is that it takes you by surprise, and I just felt like I wouldn't be that surprising — me doing these kinds of things with people's perception of who I am and the characters that I've played," Robbie recently told THR. "Carey Mulligan, however, is an actress that has this air of prestige around her. Throw her in Promising Young Woman and people's minds get blown."

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Fennell had advice for the actors who came through to shoot the bar scenes (and their unnerving aftermath) as well. She told them to think of themselves as their own romantic leads in the film. "It was like, 'This is the beginning of a romantic comedy and you're the nice guy who just saved this girl from your skeezy friends and you're going to sleep together and then you're both going to wake up and — oops! — neither of you are going remember what happened last night," says Fennell, describing the beginning of more than a few rom-coms.

 

I saw a comment that the twist of Promising Young Woman is like if Get Out had stuck with its original conclusion that bombed in test screenings. Fennell has called PYW a movie about the reality of revenge, though the fantasy (where the hero kills the bad guys and gets away with everything) is much more palatable and less triggering to the audience.

 

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Believe me, I get all that. I really do. But that doesn’t take away from how flawed the premise is. Or maybe I’m still bitter over how the trailers duped us.

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On 1/14/2021 at 11:00 PM, Spartan Girl said:

But JFC. There was zero catharsis in this movie. The opening scenes of her baiting and trapping those guys was brilliant, but we were led to believe she was going to do something terrible and instead she just basically lets them off with a warning?! WTF? The whole scaring them straight doesn’t work without any follow through.

I was really surprised by this, I think even moreso than the fact that she was killed. She reveals that she's sober and then she ... talks to them about how shitty they are? That'll learn 'em!

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Fennell just won the WGA Award for Best Original Screenplay.

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On 1/4/2021 at 6:58 PM, SeanC said:

The only scene I thought didn't really work was, ironically, the scene with Alfred Molina's repentant lawyer.  Compared to the excellent depictions of self-justifying guys elsewhere in the film, I didn't find the way that Molina's change of heart was written to be compelling.

I agree.  I liked that she actually ran into a character who had had a change of heart but his apparent shell a man thing rang a little false.  I think it would have been more interesting to see Cassie have to deal with someone who was both sincerely repentant but still functioning.  Would she have been able to reconcile the two?  She herself was barely functioning.

I rented this last night and this was the first of the big Oscar contenders that I can honestly say I had a desire to watch again.  It's not a perfect movie but I couldn't stop thinking about it all day.  I didn't mind that Cassie didn't actually do anything to the men she exposed.  What really could she have done?  And I did find just the act of turning the "nice guy" trope on its head satisfying.  And while I don't think she was actively trying to get herself killed, I think she accepted that it was a possibility.  I agree with whomever said that she had to have known she was putting herself in harm's way every night and she either didn't care or couldn't help herself.  She had obviously been at this for a while and she could have been overpowered at any time.  It does beg the question though what her end game would have been if she survived with Al.  Until the bachelor party, she hadn't done anything that anyone would go after her for.  She literally didn't do anything to Alison Brie's character (other than scare the shit out of her) and there's no way Connie Britton's character would have exposed herself to try to press charges against her.  They both just wanted her to go away.  But she raised her game with Al and actually attempted to physically harm him.  (Not to mention she roofied a bunch of guys.)  Not that I feel bad for him, fuck him, but that's not something she would just get away with.  We did see her toss her license plate away so was she planning on skipping town regardless?  One way or another she knew this was something she couldn't come back from.   And even if she lived to see her revenge play out I don't know that it would have changed anything for her as she was too far gone.   Nothing was going to change the fact that everyone failed Nina and that there will always be another guy at another club.  She's not the Joker as she doesn't revel in chaos.  This is more like her job.  Something that hit me hard was when Molly Shannon, Nina's own mother, told Cassie to move on.  It didn't seem like it was out of concern or love for Cassie, but almost annoyance that Cassie was still grieving.  It was a nice scene up until that moment and I wondered why she said it in the tone she did.

The whole cast is great and it's especially inspired that "nice guys" Adam Brody, Bo Burnham, and Max Greenfield appeared in it.  Carey Mulligan was outstanding and this might be recency bias but it was my favorite performance of the year.  I loved how she shifted gears throughout the film.  She nailed the dead pan humor, she nailed the detached persona, she nailed being the fake nice girl with Alison Brie, she nailed being sincere and almost vulnerable with Bo Burnham, and of course she nailed the emotional scenes.  Best Actress is absolutely loaded this year though.  I think it's more likely that Fennell breaks through in adapted screenplay.  I know it was billed as a dark comedy but I was surprised at how much I did laugh given the subject.

Couple of movie magic things that I found was that in the span of a few hours Alfred Molina alerted the police, they found and identified Cassie's body, and the police arrested Al right in the middle of his wedding reception.  Also, the letter Cassie left for Molina said "if anything should happen to me."  No one knew where she went.  How would he even know she was missing?  Maybe he just alerted the police regardless.  Also Ryan getting the perfectly timed texts.  And another thing was all the key players went to this local medical school and stayed fairly local.  No one got a residency out of state and stayed there?  Madison seemed to be the only one who left the area.  None of this particularly bothered me but it's fun to point out.    

Edited by kiddo82
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34 minutes ago, kiddo82 said:

Couple of movie magic things that I found was that in the span of a few hours Alfred Molina alerted the police, they found and identified Cassie's body, and the police arrested Al right in the middle of his wedding reception.  Also, the letter Cassie left for Molina said "if anything should happen to me."  No one knew where she went.  How would he even know she was missing?  Maybe he just alerted the police regardless.  Also Ryan getting the perfectly timed texts.  And another thing was all the key players went to this local medical school and stayed fairly local.  No one got a residency out of state and stayed there?  Madison seemed to be the only one who left the area.  None of this particularly bothered me but it's fun to point out.    

Unless I missed something, I don't think there was anything saying that the letter arrived the same day as the wedding.  Assuming local mail, it probably arrived days earlier, which would allow more time for an investigation.

In terms of how he could have known she was missing, there'd probably have been stories about it if the police were asking around; if nothing else, he could have contacted her parents.

The text messages are definitely a bit of convenient timing.

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16 minutes ago, SeanC said:

Unless I missed something, I don't think there was anything saying that the letter arrived the same day as the wedding.  Assuming local mail, it probably arrived days earlier, which would allow more time for an investigation.

In terms of how he could have known she was missing, there'd probably have been stories about it if the police were asking around; if nothing else, he could have contacted her parents.

The text messages are definitely a bit of convenient timing.

You're probably right.  I just assumed it was the morning of the wedding because of the Angel of the Morning montage.  (also, this film had a perfectly curated soundtrack.)  We also don't know that the wedding was the next day so some time could have elapsed.  Either way, the perfect timing of it all coinciding is definitely a movie thing.  Like I said, it's not enough to take me out of the movie, it's just a fridge moment.

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8 hours ago, kiddo82 said:

Something that hit me hard was when Molly Shannon, Nina's own mother, told Cassie to move on.  It didn't seem like it was out of concern or love for Cassie, but almost annoyance that Cassie was still grieving.  It was a nice scene up until that mome

I could understand where she was coming from. Nina's parents were obviously still grieving and it was probably difficult to have Cassie around, searching for absolution, and reminding them of Nina when they like her probably felt like that they failed her too. Grief isn't pretty and it leads people to push others away. I do think Molly telling her to move on was partly because she cared for her, but also partly "I can't help you, I'm barely holding on myself." Or that's how I interpreted it.

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6 hours ago, Spartan Girl said:

I could understand where she was coming from. Nina's parents were obviously still grieving and it was probably difficult to have Cassie around, searching for absolution, and reminding them of Nina when they like her probably felt like that they failed her too. Grief isn't pretty and it leads people to push others away. I do think Molly telling her to move on was partly because she cared for her, but also partly "I can't help you, I'm barely holding on myself." Or that's how I interpreted it.

I definitely feel that.  I just think the scene would have been better served if Molly Shannon said something like "I can't keep doing this Cassie."  Until the end of the scene there was no indication that this was a regular thing between the two of them and that Molly Shannon wasn't anything but pleasantly surprised that Cassie showed up.  So it just felt a little off to me.  On that note though it was really nice to see Cassie have this moment with someone (the only person) who could truly empathize with her pain. It's the only time in the movie we get to see Cassie really have any catharsis which is why I think the ending of the scene cut deep.

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9 minutes ago, kiddo82 said:

I definitely feel that.  I just think the scene would have been better served if Molly Shannon said something like "I can't keep doing this Cassie."  Until the end of the scene there was no indication that this was a regular thing between the two of them and that Molly Shannon wasn't anything but pleasantly surprised that Cassie showed up.  So it just felt a little off to me.  On that note though it was really nice to see Cassie have this moment with someone (the only person) who could truly empathize with her pain. It's the only time in the movie we get to see Cassie really have any catharsis which is why I think the ending of the scene cut deep.

She might have been pleasantly surprised but that doesn’t mean she felt like hashing out Nina’s death with Cassie. She might not have said “I can’t keep doing this” but reading between the lines it was there. Just my interpretation though, but I tended to be understanding of how both she and Cassie’s parents wanted her to move on, even if it came off as harsh and pushy. 

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58 minutes ago, Spartan Girl said:

She might have been pleasantly surprised but that doesn’t mean she felt like hashing out Nina’s death with Cassie. She might not have said “I can’t keep doing this” but reading between the lines it was there. Just my interpretation though, but I tended to be understanding of how both she and Cassie’s parents wanted her to move on, even if it came off as harsh and pushy. 

I lost my father recently and am definitely not interested in hashing out his death, and he did not die young or violently (though it was too soon). I talk to his friends and am always glad to hear from them, but if one of them started in wanting to go over his final days, it wouldn't be a welcome conversation. I definitely saw what you saw in Nina's mom, @Spartan Girl

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23 hours ago, SeanC said:

The text messages are definitely a bit of convenient timing.

Yeah, the timing, the perfect music cue, it all made for a great ending (which I watched three times)! But really, he didn't have to get them at that exact moment for them to be effective. If he had gotten the messages earlier he would have been looking over his shoulder all day expecting Cassie to show up. Or if he got them later, Cassie would still get the last word. It just wouldn't have been as fun to watch!

I loved the shot of the weasel best man running away. Pretty sure Al's gonna give him up instantly - they'll lie for each other, but only when it costs them nothing. 

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I juat rewatched the final scenes. Cassie's letter to the lawyer says she'll be going to Al's bachelor party on July 23, and includes the location/cabin number. At the wedding, Ryan's phone shows the date to be July 27. The lawyer likely got the package ahead of time. Since Cassie lived with her parents, they would know by the next day that she hadn't come home or ever shown up for work.

Though filmed in the LA area, the movie seems to take place in a smaller sort of Everytown, where a woman of Cassie's age and background going missing would be plastered all over the local news. The lawyer could know pretty quickly that she actually had disappeared and would have immediately contacted the authorities. The cops talk to her parents and people from her job, and they mention she'd been seeing someone. A romantic partner is often suspected when someone goes missing, but maybe the police already knew more than they were letting on as they questioned Ryan. Did they think he was too nonchalant about his recent ex being missing?

In any case, Al and friends weren't experienced killers and would have left enough forensic evidence to be discovered fairly easily. The cops knew where to look for the remains, thanks to Cassie's note. A tight timeline, but I can recall some real-life disappearances-turned-murders where a suspect was arrested within 3-4 days. The reveal was pretty dramatic, but it is a movie...

Edited by Dejana
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10 hours ago, Dejana said:

In any case, Al and friends weren't experienced killers and would have left enough forensic evidence to be discovered fairly easily. The cops knew where to look for the remains, thanks to Cassie's note. A tight timeline, but I can recall some real-life disappearances-turned-murders where a suspect was arrested within 3-4 days. The reveal was pretty dramatic, but it is a movie...

Yep. That little outdoor fire would not have destroyed her body. It wasn't near hot enough to destroy bones or teeth. 

I watched this last night and yes the ending was a little to perfectly played out but overall, I liked the movie. The ending was very hard to watch and I would have liked something better for Cassie and her family but I wasn't surprised with it. She is, as the film pointed out, a petite woman who was in dangerous situations over and over again. 

I haven't fully processed it yet but I loved the pop aesthetic- having something so cheery up against this subject matter set me on edge right from the start. I loved that there were warning signs with Ryan but that it was easy to ignore them. "Whoops, this is my building" was worrisome as was him coming back to her work after she rejected him by giving him a fake number. I loved the casting across the board. I thought the birthday gift scene was very real and the first sign that Cassie was in a much darker place than even she'd admit. I'm sure my opinions on this movie will change once I get farther away from it but I think as a debut for Emerald Fennell it has me interested in what she's doing next.

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6 hours ago, vibeology said:

Yep. That little outdoor fire would not have destroyed her body. It wasn't near hot enough to destroy bones or teeth. 

For God's sake, it wasn't even hot enough to destroy Cassie's  necklace. Come on, you all saw that chintzy little thing, it should have been melted or burned into nothing!

Or maybe that was symbolism? It was a friendship necklace. Hmmmm, well played, Emerald Fennell.

Okay, I've dragged my heels long enough, here are my ramshackle thoughts on Promising Young Woman.

I've decided that my relationship with this movie is more complicated that I'd initially thought. I'll admit that I like it probably more than I should, but, ooooh, I make myself woozy trying to reconcile with the ending. As I've stated before, I have issues with "posthumous revenge" narratives. Again, regardless whether or not the plan works... the protagonist is dead! What difference does it make? Dead is dead, and because this is a movie, I can more or less accept that Cassie's plan works swimmingly, but it's marred by the fact that she doesn't get to enjoy the carnage.

Then again, Vertigo has a way more convoluted plot, and I still love it, so...

Whatever its flaws, I do appreciate the commentary the movie has about toxic masculinity, victim blaming, and how privileged white dudes are all but teflon coated against suffering the consequences of their actions. It's extremely telling (but not surprising) how Ryan and Al are distressed and sorry that they're caught/called out for their past actions, but not for the actions themselves. They either don't know or don't care that they violated a human being and ruined her life.... but, oh, how dare that bitch Cassie threaten to ruin their lives! Bo Burnham was excellent at playing an ostensibly charming romantic lead, but his slimier tendencies are especially apparent upon rewatch. The persistence (dude, she spit in your coffee and gave you a fake number, I think she's not interested), the subtle negging, etc. He finally loses the mask after Cassie showed him the video, and he calls her a "fucking failure" just minutes after saying he loved her. Better a professional failure than a moral one, asshole.*

Alfred Molina's so good, I'm 100% willing to believe his lawyer character is completely repentant for his past transgressions.

Molly Shannon was heartbreaking in her one scene. I read her behavior as: Mrs. Fisher wants justice for Nina, too. She may even want to exact vengeance of her own... but Mrs. Fisher's older and wiser than Cassie, and knows better. Not everyone has the wherewithal to fight the system after the system fails them. The damage is done, and sometimes the best way to honor someone's memory is to live well and move on. It's not much, but it's all she feels she has, and she wants Cassie to follow suit.

I confess I found Cassie’s punishment of Madison too cruel. Yes, Madison sucks, and is a lousy friend, but… Madison isn’t the one who raped Nina! I get Cassie’s grudge against Dean Walker (who was an authority figure who failed in her duty), but Madison was just a bitch who ultimately matter in the grand scheme of things, and tricking her into thinking she was raped nearly a decade after the fact felt needlessly brutal. Plus, who was that guy Cassie hired? Did she know him? I have my doubts, and if he was indeed a stranger… how do we know he didn’t do something to Madison?!

Speaking of Dean Walker, I’m amazed she didn’t try to call the cops on Cassie right then and there. Abduction is abduction, even if Amber was okay. 

Laverne Cox was fun and managed to rise above a stereotypical role, and I confess

Spoiler

I did like how Cassie left her her half of the necklace. Gail was a good friend to Cassie, and at least Cassie recognized that.

 

I'm excited to see more of Emerald Fennell's work in the future. Whether you liked this or hated this, she very much has talent as a director, and we always need more women directors.

 

And finally: Carey Mulligan. Give her an Oscar. Please and thank you. 

 

*Full disclosure: No, working in a coffee shop instead of being a doctor does not make anyone a failure. In fact, with a few glaring exceptions, there is no profession that makes you a failure, and don't let any "Ryan" tell you otherwise. I was just phrasing it the way I did to make a point.

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6 hours ago, Wiendish Fitch said:

Speaking of Dean Walker, I’m amazed she didn’t try to call the cops on Cassie right then and there. Abduction is abduction, even if Amber was okay. 

I thought about that but I doubt she could have called the cops on Cassie without it being revealed that she swept Nina's assault under the rug.  Even if Dean Walker was not culpable legally that's still not something she would want out there.  I'm sure she weighed her options carefully.  And had she threatened to call the cops in the moment I'm sure Cassie would have reminded her of that.

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15 hours ago, Wiendish Fitch said:

I confess I found Cassie’s punishment of Madison too cruel. Yes, Madison sucks, and is a lousy friend, but… Madison isn’t the one who raped Nina! I get Cassie’s grudge against Dean Walker (who was an authority figure who failed in her duty), but Madison was just a bitch who ultimately matter in the grand scheme of things, and tricking her into thinking she was raped nearly a decade after the fact felt needlessly brutal. Plus, who was that guy Cassie hired? Did she know him? I have my doubts, and if he was indeed a stranger… how do we know he didn’t do something to Madison?!

Thank you!!!! I honestly don’t blame Madison for telling her to never contact her again after that.

I just can’t get behind how the movie dolled out brutal mind-fucking punishments to those two female characters, while the would-be rapists ultimately just get lectured. Cassie could have easily bluffed them like she did the dean, saying that she just recorded them on Facebook Live or something like that, at least make them scared and paranoid that their whole lives were about to be blown up.

Of course, if she hadn’t done what she did to Madison, she never would have gotten the tape and found out the truth about Ryan.

15 hours ago, Wiendish Fitch said:

Laverne Cox was fun and managed to rise above a stereotypical role, and I confess

  Reveal spoiler

I did like how Cassie left her her half of the necklace. Gail was a good friend to Cassie, and at least Cassie recognized that.

 

Loved that too.

Even if/when Al goes down for murder, it’ll probably be after a painful trial for Cassie’s family where the lawyers will try to argue self-defense and trash her character. They might even be able to use her revenge plots against her; she was smart enough to use a fake name with the dean, but Madison could be called as a witness (though she could probably be used to nail Al as a rapist). A little more digging and they might even track down the guys she targeted, who will of course lie about what they tried to do and portray her as a psycho.

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1 hour ago, Spartan Girl said:

Even if/when Al goes down for murder, it’ll probably be after a painful trial for Cassie’s family where the lawyers will try to argue self-defense and trash her character. 

Oh, this absolutely crossed my mind, too... then again, burning the body and fleeing as opposed to calling 911 is not a good look. I'm the furthest thing from a lawyer you can imagine, but I like to think that can be used against Al and his scuzzy friend. Plus, Jordan (Alfred Molina's lawyer) has the video, and Cassie gave him an ominous note that hinted that something could happen to her. If you're that certain that someone is going to hurt or kill you, that ain't a good look, either.

Maybe I'm just pulling ideas out of fat air to justify the ending to myself, but here's my best worst case scenario: Al walks... but Cassie plan reverberates anyway. Al's new bikini model wife divorces him, because just the idea of him doing all that stuff is too horrid to contemplate (plus, y'know, their wedding was ruined!). The video of him is made public, and while there are the usual "booo, witch hunt!" people, none of his work colleagues can even look at him the same way. Female patients reschedule with someone else, and Al's eventually let go because of the negative publicity (yes, there is such a thing as bad publicity). He and Ryan (who has also felt the negative consequences), try to team up and make their own private medical practice... it fails. So then they become boozing wasters who while away their free time bitching at the bar and hanging out in the dark web.

 

1 hour ago, Spartan Girl said:

A little more digging and they might even track down the guys she targeted, who will of course lie about what they tried to do and portray her as a psycho.

 

Hmm, that's also a possibility. Thank goodness Cassie tossed her little vengeance journal.

Edited by Wiendish Fitch
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23 hours ago, Wiendish Fitch said:

I confess I found Cassie’s punishment of Madison too cruel. Yes, Madison sucks, and is a lousy friend, but… Madison isn’t the one who raped Nina! I get Cassie’s grudge against Dean Walker (who was an authority figure who failed in her duty), but Madison was just a bitch who ultimately matter in the grand scheme of things, and tricking her into thinking she was raped nearly a decade after the fact felt needlessly brutal. Plus, who was that guy Cassie hired? Did she know him? I have my doubts, and if he was indeed a stranger… how do we know he didn’t do something to Madison?!

Speaking of Dean Walker, I’m amazed she didn’t try to call the cops on Cassie right then and there. Abduction is abduction, even if Amber was okay. 

 

I think Cassie feels a different level of rage for the women complicit in perpetuating rape culture. It’s like she figured that men will be trash in these situations, but expected better from women than for them to minimize/dismiss victims, too. Cassie sees them as the type of women who will only ever "get it" when they are directly affected. As it turns out, Madison had video evidence of Nina's rape for years and was still in victim-blaming mode! What Cassie did to Madison and the dean was wrong, of course, but she really twisted the knife with the people who'd failed Nina. The men in the bars were predatory, but in a way, it wasn't as personal with them for Cassie. 

*

7 hours ago, Spartan Girl said:

Even if/when Al goes down for murder, it’ll probably be after a painful trial for Cassie’s family where the lawyers will try to argue self-defense and trash her character. They might even be able to use her revenge plots against her; she was smart enough to use a fake name with the dean, but Madison could be called as a witness (though she could probably be used to nail Al as a rapist). A little more digging and they might even track down the guys she targeted, who will of course lie about what they tried to do and portray her as a psycho.

Cassie included Madison's old phone with her note to the lawyer as part of the evidence to give to the authorities, so the police have the video of Al raping Nina. I don't know about all the admissibility issues, and it's a separate crime from Cassie being killed, but its existence would have a defense attorney urging Al to plead to a lesser charge (second degree murder/manslaughter/etc.) if it's being offered. Aside from everything else, Al just going on with his wedding like it was nothing, would play very poorly in the court of public opinion.

Edited by Dejana
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You know, I didn't think about it, but honestly, Cassie created many more victims.  Her own family is obviously going to be traumatized knowing their daughter died such a violent death, but also Nina's mom.  I imagine this is going to be horrific for her.

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3 hours ago, Dejana said:

I think Cassie feels a different level of rage for the women complicit in perpuating rape culture. It’s like she figured that men will be trash in these situations, but expected better from women than for them to minimize/dismiss victims, too. Cassie sees them as the type of women who will only ever "get it" when they are directly affected. As it turns out, Madison had video evidence of Nina's rape for years and was still in victim-blaming mode! What Cassie did to Madison and the dean was wrong, of course, but she really twisted the knife with the people who'd failed Nina. The men in the bars were predatory, but in a way, it wasn't as personal.

I agree with this.  I never got the sense that Cassie got much pleasure from what she did to the guys at the bar.  Maybe some, but it seemed more like a compulsion for her.  (Those were some angry hash marks in her journal)  Almost like an addict who is beyond feeling pleasure from their vice but instead now needs it simply to function.  But when it came to trying to make it right for Nina?  That was personal.  On that note I think the movie does a good job of showing how it took a village to fail Nina, and sexual assault victims in general.  Neither Madison nor Dean Walker were culpable for Nina's rape, but would their support have prevented her suicide?  Maybe Al still wouldn't have been brought up on charges, but if Nina had simply been validated by Dean Walker, would that have made things any different?  Even if Cassie is out of line for thinking that, it doesn't change the fact that she does.  I think a lot of Cassie's grief and guilt is from believing that she wasn't enough. 

Edited by kiddo82
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I rented this today.....I liked it quite a bit.....but I get why people hated it.

 

Unfortunately I knew things would go south with Ryan in act 3 for all the previews showed her in the nurse's outfit so you knew she was going to that bachelor party.  In reality, I don't know what other kind of ending they could have had to make it realistic unless she had killed Al and gone to jail? I actually think that is a worse ending.  At least they did get arrested in the end, i really thought they were going to get off.  I was hoping what would happen was that Ryan would confess so that the cops would start looking at the bachelor group and find the body but of course that did not happen.

 

So this is an adapted screenplay? is it a book?

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21 hours ago, lasu said:

 

You know, I didn't think about it, but honestly, Cassie Al created many more victims. 

 

Fixed it for you. Because yeah even though Cassie’s choices did lead to pain for her parents, let’s not forget who the killer and the one ultimately responsible for all the pain was.

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11 minutes ago, Spartan Girl said:

Fixed it for you. Because yeah even though Cassie’s choices did lead to pain for her parents, let’s not forget who the killer and the one ultimately responsible for all the pain was.

Please don't do that.  I said what I meant.  You can disagree with my opinion, but don't tell me my opinion is wrong. 

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1 hour ago, lasu said:

Please don't do that.  I said what I meant.  You can disagree with my opinion, but don't tell me my opinion is wrong. 

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be disrespectful. I do think you’re right that Cassie’s actions caused more pain to the families in the long run, I just wanted to point out that it doesn’t lessen Al’s responsibility.

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35 minutes ago, Spartan Girl said:

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be disrespectful. I do think you’re right that Cassie’s actions caused more pain to the families in the long run, I just wanted to point out that it doesn’t lessen Al’s responsibility.

I appreciate that, and I'm sorry if I came off as too salty.  It's been a very long week, so I really thank you.

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All I know about criminal law I learned from watching Law and Order and Major Crimes/The Closer.  (Or as a I like to saw I got my law degree from Hudson U.)  So keep in mind that everything I am about to say could be absolute TV bunk:  I think the video of Al raping Nina actually helps his defense in his eventual murder trial.  He’s not on trial for Nina’s rape and it gives Cassie a motive and lends credence to his self defense claims.  The obvious problem for him is that it proves what he did to Nina.  Even if the statue of limitations on that crime has come and gone and he can no longer be prosecuted for it, that’s typically not something you want out there.  It also implicates all the other men who were there and let it happen.  I don’t think there is any way in hell his defense team wants that video admitted as evidence, but it being suppressed doesn’t hurt the prosecution as much as the defense. The juicy irony of this as I see it is this boils down to another he said/she said.  Except in this case the “she” is dead and the “he” is on trial for the murder.  Al can’t prove that Cassie was the aggressor and she certainly can’t be cross examined.  The only real witness he has is Joe who saw the surgical equipment as well as Al handcuffed to the bed.  However, this is the same Joe who also helped Al dispose of the body and fled when the cops showed up.  I don’t think a jury is going to like Joe all that much.  How it would play out in the real world I have no idea but I’m guessing there would be a plea deal involved.   Worst case scenario is he walks but the video still exists and the cops have it.  Maybe something comes of that.  Or maybe Madison is inspired to leak it to MSNBC so everyone knows what a shitbag Al is.  At minimum everyone is going to know about the doctor who messed with a crime scene and unlawfully disposed of a woman’s body. 

ETA I just googled it.  Assuming the movie (and Nina's assault) takes place in Ohio, per Cassie's license plates, there is no statute of limitations for felony rape.  And now that's in my search history and another thing Law and Order has taught me is that I'll have to explain that away to some detectives someday.  

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20 hours ago, snickers said:

Unfortunately I knew things would go south with Ryan in act 3 for all the previews showed her in the nurse's outfit so you knew she was going to that bachelor party.  In reality, I don't know what other kind of ending they could have had to make it realistic unless she had killed Al and gone to jail? I actually think that is a worse ending.  At least they did get arrested in the end, i really thought they were going to get off.  I was hoping what would happen was that Ryan would confess so that the cops would start looking at the bachelor group and find the body but of course that did not happen.

 

So this is an adapted screenplay? is it a book?

It is an original screenplay, but the title may seem familiar:

 

Quote

It’s been theorized that the film’s title is a reference to the case of Brock Turner, the disgraced Stanford student who, despite being convicted of sexual assault and intent to rape (Turner served only three months in jail), was often referred to in the media as a “promising young man.”

“I don’t think that it was, but certainly that as a phrase is so commonly used when young men do something wrong,” Fennell says when asked if that was the intent. “They are almost always referred to as ‘promising young man’ whether it’s a case like this of assault or if they get a gun and do something completely reprehensible. There’s always this inclination to be forgiving. I believe entirely in forgiveness, but it’s an interesting thing, when you look at the phrase ‘promising young woman,’ it’s hardly ever used, and if it is used, it’s usually to describe a girl who’s no longer alive.

“You can only really be a ‘promising young woman’ when it’s too late, when your promise is completely aborted.”

*

Ryan is written in a way where you always hope that he makes the better choice, but he never does. 

 

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2 hours ago, Wiendish Fitch said:

 

I was wondering when The Take would get to this...

 

And they nailed it beautifully. I’m still waiting for them to decimate Joss Whedon/Xander Harris though!

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17 hours ago, Spartan Girl said:

And they nailed it beautifully. I’m still waiting for them to decimate Joss Whedon/Xander Harris though!

Seriously! They recently released a video on what a jerk Harry Potter*- Harry Potter!- is, but when the hell are they gonna drag Xander over the coals?!?!?

If The Take releases a video on how horrible Dorothy Gale is before or instead of Xander, I am giving up on them and never looking back.

Back to PYW, I agree with Emerald Fennell on how seemingly only young men have "promise", while young women... eh, who cares? For God's sake, Dean Walker didn't even remember Nina's name, despite Nina being at the top of her class.

 

*Just so we're clear, Harry can be awful, and has had plenty of crappy moments, but he ain't got nothin' on Xander Harris.

 

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13 hours ago, Wiendish Fitch said:

Seriously! They recently released a video on what a jerk Harry Potter*- Harry Potter!- is, but when the hell are they gonna drag Xander over the coals?!?!?

If The Take releases a video on how horrible Dorothy Gale is before and/or instead of Xander, I am giving up on them and never looking back.

Yeah the Harry video pissed me off because they got so much wrong and out of context. Glad that everyone called them out on it and they deleted it. But I don’t want to get off topic...

One little detail in PYW I appreciate is during the bachelor party scene, instead of showing Cassie’s strip show the camera shows closeups of all the guys leering at her. Very effective choice there.

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On 3/27/2021 at 1:53 PM, Wiendish Fitch said:

I was wondering when The Take would get to this...

 

 

I didn't watch the movie but I watched  this. For all of you worried about Al ultimately walking or getting a joke sentence slap on the wrist, I think the Take posits that this is besides the point. Ultimately Cassie made her final point and destroyed Al's picture perfect life and picture perfect wedding. She revealed the monster for who he really is in front of his genteel society along with the enablers and he doesn't get to just go back to his normal life, even in the event his lawyers get him off. 

Quote

Back to PYW, I agree with Emerald Fennell on how seemingly only young men have "promise", while young women... eh, who cares? For God's sake, Dean Walker didn't even remember Nina's name, despite Nina being at the top of her class.

It's like how media coverage for victimized women almost ALWAYS mention her beauty, like she was only worthy because she either was or would have been a trophy wife to a successful man. It's why the media only really covers the girls who look like they could have been the Homecoming Queen, i.e. a future high society wife.

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16 minutes ago, methodwriter85 said:

I didn't watch the movie but I watched  this. For all of you worried about Al ultimately walking or getting a joke sentence slap on the wrist, I think the Take posits that this is besides the point. Ultimately Cassie made her final point and destroyed Al's picture perfect life and picture perfect wedding. She revealed the monster for who he really is in front of his genteel society along with the enablers and he doesn't get to just go back to his normal life, even in the event his lawyers get him off. 

An excellent point, methodwriter85.

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On 4/1/2021 at 8:43 PM, Wiendish Fitch said:

Ultimately Cassie made her final point and destroyed Al's picture perfect life and picture perfect wedding. She revealed the monster for who he really is in front of his genteel society along with the enablers and he doesn't get to just go back to his normal life, even in the event his lawyers get him off. 

I don't disagree, but I also think she could have done this with just the video she already had. That's what frustrates me -  I just don't think Cassie needed to die, and it bothers me that she did.  If she had just ruined him with the video, I feel like a lot of other people who were truly innocent wouldn't have suffered.  I'm sure it weighs heavily on Nina's mother that Cassie did this on her daughter's behalf.  

That said, I want to be clear that while I wish she had made different choices, I do not hold her responsible for her murder.  Her murderer is responsible for her murder.

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16 minutes ago, lasu said:

I don't disagree, but I also think she could have done this with just the video she already had. That's what frustrates me -  I just don't think Cassie needed to die, and it bothers me that she did.  If she had just ruined him with the video, I feel like a lot of other people who were truly innocent wouldn't have suffered.  I'm sure it weighs heavily on Nina's mother that Cassie did this on her daughter's behalf.  

That said, I want to be clear that while I wish she had made different choices, I do not hold her responsible for her murder.  Her murderer is responsible for her murder.

I finally watched this last night, and one thing I noticed early on--Cassie is suicidal.  She wants to be reunited with Nina.  She tried to rebuild her life, but it was never going to last.  If Ryan had not been revealed to be part of the problem, she still would have ended her life eventually.  It may have been after they got engaged, right before their wedding, after she had any children, etc.  Pretty much any huge milestone that Cassie would experience but Nina would not is a trigger.  

Cassie had not moved on in 7 years.  She still lived with her parents while she was trolling for assholes.  Any of those encounters could have led to her death, and Cassie knew it.  

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There's a line I once heard that I think can apply to Cassie.  After 7 years, Cassie wasn't honoring Nina's memory but reveling in her death.  Did she ever think how Nina would feel about that?

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I don't think Cassie wanted the video released if she could avoid it. It's a video of the worst moment in Nina's life, that lead to everything else, and people had already laughed at it. If she could punish them without having Nina's pain exposed to the world, I think she would have.

I don't feel sorry for Madison at all. At first I thought she just didn't believe Nina. But she had that video all along. If Dean Walker or the civil attorneys knew about that, the whole thing could have gone differently. It wouldn't just be her "unreliable" drunk memory but proof of the tape and of accomplices. It could have changed the whole aftermath. For Madison to taste that fear and dread and the horror of not knowing if you can believe your own mind-- it was very cruel. So was Madison.

Likewise Dean Walker. Her daughter was fine and not even scared just disappointed that she didn't see some boy band. No abduction or illegal conduct by Cassie. But again, a person who was able to make nothing of Nina's suffering.

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1 hour ago, benteen said:

There's a line I once heard that I think can apply to Cassie.  After 7 years, Cassie wasn't honoring Nina's memory but reveling in her death.  Did she ever think how Nina would feel about that?

I don't think reveling is the right word. I think wallowing is a better fit there.

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On 3/28/2021 at 8:19 AM, Spartan Girl said:

One little detail in PYW I appreciate is during the bachelor party scene, instead of showing Cassie’s strip show the camera shows closeups of all the guys leering at her. Very effective choice there.

I liked that too. I also like that we don't see the video of the rape, just hear the audio while watching Cassie's reaction to it.

Another smart choice over what to show was in the opening scene, all those shots of the finance bros(?)/whoever dancing at the bar, and they're shot the same way that attractive young women are in scenes like that. All just PIECES, tight close-ups of legs and torsos and groins and asses, not people. It immediately stands out how weird and atypical it is, which makes it all the more glaring that attractive young women are shot like that ALL THE TIME.

I really liked the zeroing-in on the Nice Guy thing. Ryan was the ultimate example, of course (and made me feel extra-vindicated for every time I've hated a "romantic" guy in a rom-com who keeps pushing after a woman turns him down,) but there was also the terrible, "Why do girls wear so much makeup, they're beautiful just the way they are!" guy, and the guy who went after Cassie in the opening scene was the same one standing up for their female colleague during their work talk at that bar. Also, good grief on the fact that "I did nothing wrong" is so deeply ingrained in these guys that, even seeing a dead woman lying on the bed next to Al, Joe's INSTANT response is, "This isn't your fault!" (I was still kind of in shock from the murder at that point, but I admittedly lol'd at Al's quavery-voiced, "It kind of feels like my fault!" in response.)

One of the things that hit me hardest in the scene with the dean was how calmly she said something to the effect of, "You have to understand, we get one or two of these accusations every week," as an excuse for why she didn't remember Nina. Like, lady, having at least one accusation of rape per WEEK isn't a justification, it's a VERY SERIOUS PROBLEM!! Ever thought about doing an honest investigation of your campus culture in the last seven years?!

As for the ending, I definitely would've preferred the story to go a different route, but I understood what the film was trying to do with it. To me, Cassie's story reminded me a lot of Sweeney Todd - she's so torn up by her grief and obsessed with her quest for revenge that she doesn't feel there's anything left for her. While I don't think she goes to the bachelor party intending to die, I think she knows it's a distinct possibility but just doesn't care. Her life doesn't matter, careers and relationships don't matter, life clearly doesn't care about her since the Al Monroes of the world are still doing GREAT for themselves... For a while, she thinks that she can let it go and get past it, but then she gets the video, and all that's left is the work. It has to be done. If she gets out of it alive, fine, if not, what does it matter? There are plenty of revenge stories that go for the big catharsis, but given what the film showed us about Cassie, I don't think there was any happy-ending scenario for her. (Of course, none of that changes the fact that I still WANTED her to live!)

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16 hours ago, AimingforYoko said:

I don't think reveling is the right word. I think wallowing is a better fit there.

I'll go with that.  Cassie wallowed in Nina's death for years, something Nina's mom wanted her to stop doing and something Nina likely would have wanted her to stop doing. 

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I had a very hard time believing Madison would keep a rape video (for all intents and purposes a gang rape video) on her phone at all, let alone keep it for seven years. What was the line that was supposed to make us buy this? "I save everything"? Not buying it.

I will say that everything from that moment on was extremely compelling, but I had to forget that I didn't believe the plot device.

I feel like Emerald Fennell wrote Cassie with Jodie Comer in mind. Some of the art direction felt very "Killing Eve" too. But Carey Mulligan was great.

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The video was on an old phone. The "everything" was the old phone, which like many people she didn't throw out or donate so old stuff was still on her old phone.

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I'm a little fuzzy - how did Madison get the video?  Did she record the rape??

On 4/6/2021 at 1:08 AM, angora said:

Like, lady, having at least one accusation of rape per WEEK isn't a justification, it's a VERY SERIOUS PROBLEM!!

OK, I know this isn't funny, but this is really funny.  I didn't even think about it until it was pointed out, but yes, you can't have what at that point would be HUNDREDS of rape accusation and your response is, Eh, bitches be lyin'.   Again, super not funny, also funny.

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What year is the movie supposed to take place? I assumed 2020, but I might have missed something. Anyway, if that's right, the movie has its history wrong. When Cassie and Nina were in law school and Nina was raped, it would be 2013. Two years before that, the Obama administration vastly expanded the scope of Title IX, requiring educational institutions to take every allegation of sexual abuse seriously or lose its federal funding. As a result, universities staffed up with what they called Title IX Compliance Officers, to thoroughly investigate every allegation. The dean of the law school could possibly have gotten away with brushing aside Nina's allegation in 2010, but that's pretty much the latest date she could have done so.

I also found it puzzling that Madison told Cassie "Oh, everyone knew about it, everyone saw the video," and not one single woman or man who saw the video found it troubling enough to report it and corroborate Nina's story. 

The movie's strongest suit, IMO, is its depiction of the deplorable behavior of many so-called "nice guys." That's the first time I've seen that subject matter treated, and so the movie matters. Weighing this against the movie's many strains of credulity, uneven tone, and bad pacing, I just barely come out that it deserves a Best Picture nomination. But that's just me.

 

 

Edited by Milburn Stone

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Costume Designers Guild Award nomination!

Excellence in Contemporary Film
Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar – Trayce Gigi Field
Birds of Prey – Erin Benach
Da 5 Bloods – Donna Berwick
Promising Young Woman – Nancy Steiner
The Prom – Lou Eyrich

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