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Moral of the Movie - Review

Promising Young Woman (2020)

Academy Awards Special Edition

Drama/Dark Comedy, Directed by Emerald Fennell | Rating: Memorable One-Night Stand | Published: Sept. 2, 2022, 12:05 p.m.


The issue of sexual assault is something that affects everyone. It doesn’t matter if a person thinks they’re nice or not, they can be equally as capable of such a horrific act if the opportunity arises to take advantage of someone in that manner. Also, bystanders who let such terrible trauma to occur in the first place and defend the perpetrators are just as despicable as the criminal themselves. Lastly, there is also the moral of how certain experiences can be so traumatizing that they can unfortunately consume your life entirely to the point that the trauma may come to define and completely overpower you.


There are so many layers to this movie that you will absolutely get the most out of watching this movie if you like any one of the following subgenres: romantic comedies, dark comedies, revenge thrillers, and emotional drama. Overall, it’s like Crazy, Stupid Love (2011) combined with Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003) minus the gory violence, and if that somewhat interests you, then you should definitely watch it.


This is the next installment of the Oscars-themed Moral of the Movie review series where I review one of the Best Picture nominees each day until the Academy Awards ceremony this coming Sunday. Today’s film in review is Promising Young Woman (2020), which is genuinely one of the most unique films of the year. Nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Screenplay, it is also considered to be simply one of the best movies of the year. I find it hard to put this film in one genre only because it covers so many elements of all sorts of genres like the ones mentioned in the “Who I Think Would Most Enjoy This Movie” portion of this review. Given the sensitive subject matter that this film takes on, I found the amount of humor that this film uses to be quite surprising and off-putting at times. Yet, I think that’s the point. It adds a grounded sense of reality in the fact that comedy can often be found in tragedy. That’s not to say that anything about sexual assault is funny, but it does say a lot about the ridiculousness of how perpetrators and bystanders will defend themselves as “nice” in order to deflect any sense of accountability. Unfortunately, that’s the world we live in and this film does a great job of portraying it as such. First-time writer-director Emerald Fennell does an outstanding job in walking that fine line of showing the absurdity in the reality of how victims of sexual assault are treated without discrediting or minimizing them. Instead, the butts of the joke are the perpetrators and the bystanders who let it happen as they try to reason through everything without incriminating themselves. Now, while I find that the film walks this line in an entirely respectable and grounded manner, I can still see how some will think it crosses the line at times in an attempt to make the entire ordeal more cinematic, but I would respectfully disagree. Speaking of cinematic elements, the entire film is shot in what seems to be a pastel wonderland. The colors and the cinematography of every shot are amazing to look at with beautifully symmetric shots that are reminiscent of Wes Anderson’s work. The fact that it wasn’t nominated for Best Cinematography is a shame and a major snub in my opinion. The nominations that the film did receive were well-deserved. Carey Mulligan brings in an incredibly well-rounded and powerful performance as Cassie, a woman whose life has changed drastically because of an incident involving sexual assault. In the end, I think that this film tackles the subject matter in an entirely unique manner making it memorable and shocking enough to get its message across about believing victims, acting as bystanders, and realizing that sexual assault is no trivial matter. As such, I would say that the film is a dark horse contender for the Best Picture award.

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