Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Promising Young Woman

Emerald Fennell: Promising Young Woman (US 2020) starring Carey Mulligan as Cassandra Thomas.

Lupaava nuori nainen.
    US © 2020 Promising Woman LLC. Focus Features a Comcast company presents in association with FilmNation Entertainment a LuckyChap Entertainment Production. P: Margot Robbie, Josey McNamara, Tom Ackerley, Ben Browning, Ashley Fox, Emerald Fennell. EX: Carey Mulligan, Glen Basner, Alison Cohen, Milan Popelka. Co-P: Fiona Walsh Heinz.
    D+SC: Emerald Fennell. DP: Benjamin Kračun – colour – 2,39:1 – source format: CFast 2.0 – ProRes 4444 (2.8K) – master format: 2K – release format: D-Cinema. PD: Michael T. Perry. AD: Liz Kloczkowski. Set dec: Rae Deslich. Cost: Nancy Steiner. Makeup: Angela Wells. Hair: Daniel Curet. VFX: Stewart VFX – Jeremy Cox – Mammal Studios – Emily Freund. M: composer: Anthony Willis. M supervisor: Susan Jacobs. S: Frederic Dubois. ED: Frédéric Thoraval. Casting: Mary Vernieu, Lindsay Graham-Ahanonu.
    Soundtrack listing: beyond the jump break.
    Film clip: Night of the Hunter.
    Cast listing edited in Wikipedia:
Carey Mulligan as Cassandra "Cassie" Thomas
Bo Burnham as Ryan Cooper
Alison Brie as Madison McPhee
Clancy Brown as Stanley Thomas
Jennifer Coolidge as Susan Thomas
Laverne Cox as Gail
Chris Lowell as Alexander "Al" Monroe
Connie Britton as Dean Elizabeth Walker
Adam Brody as Jerry
Max Greenfield as Joe Macklemore III
Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Neil
Sam Richardson as Paul
Alfred Molina as Jordan Green
Molly Shannon as Mrs. Fisher
Steve Monroe as Detective Lincoln Waller
Angela Zhou as Todd
Francisca Estevez as Amber
Austin Talynn Carpenter as Anastasia
Emerald Fennell as Host of Blowjob Lips Make-up Video Tutorial
    114 min (Finnkino), 113 min (IMDb, Wikipedia), 108 min (production notes).
    Loc: Los Angeles, California.
    Festival premiere: 25 Jan 2020 Sundance Film Festival.
    US premiere: 25 Dec 2020.
    Finnish premiere: 7 May 2021, released by Finnkino / Universal a Comcast company, with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Juho Lähde / Frej Grönholm.
    Academy Award (2021, for films of 2020): Best Original Screenplay: Emerald Fennell.
    Academy Award Nominee: Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Carey Mulligan), Best Achievement in Directing (Emerald Fennell), Best Achievement in Film Editing (Frédéric Thoraval).
    Corona security: max 6 capacity, face masks, distancing, hand hygiene.
    Viewed at a press screening at Tennispalatsi 3, Helsinki, 27 April 2021.

" Revenge is sweet, but it can spoil easily. Please don’t give away Cassie’s plans after seeing the film. "
– Statement from Emerald Fennell, writer / producer / director, Promising Young Woman

Synopsis (Production notes): " Everyone said Cassandra Thomas (Academy Award®-nominee Carey Mulligan) was a promising young woman ... until a mysterious event abruptly derailed her future. Now, she’s a medical school dropout trapped in stasis. Blonde, beautiful and blessed with a killer intellect, Cassie’s not interested in climbing the corporate ladder or marrying Mr. Right. Instead, she’s seemingly content to while away her days making lattes with her coffee shop colleague Gail (Laverne Cox), much to the profound disappointment and deep concern of her parents (Jennifer Coolidge, Clancy Brown). All they want is for their almost 30-year-old daughter to move on with her life, and to move out of their house. "

" By night, Cassie performs a ritual of her own invention. Going to bars and dance clubs alone in the wee hours, she pretends to be dangerously intoxicated, helpless to defend herself from anyone who might wish her harm. Inevitably, there’s a man who decides to make sure she gets home safely.  Yet he also inevitably lets his own desires take priority over Cassie’s well-being, not realizing that he’s simply the latest to fall prey to Cassie’s nefarious schemes—he’s about to be taught a lesson he’s unlikely to forget anytime soon. "

" But whatever small satisfaction Cassie takes from her late-night rendezvous, it isn’t enough to quell the storm of rage and sorrow inside her. Until one day, handsome pediatric surgeon Ryan (Bo Burnham), an acquaintance from her med school days, happens into the coffee shop and upends Cassie’s cycle of destruction. As she begins to develop feelings for him, she’s pulled back toward her own past and the trauma that forever changed the course of her life. "

" Will she balance the scales and find her own kind of happy ending? Or will her mission of vengeance take an unimaginable toll?
" (Production notes: Synopsis).

AA: Emerald Fennell's Promising Young Woman is a disturbing revenge tragedy wrapped in ultra feminine rom com aesthetic.

It channels scenes, characters and exchanges familiar from romantic comedies but has also affinities with violent genre films: thrillers channeling female rage, horror films about avenging women and maenad dramas by Quentin Tarantino such as Kill Bill.

Most importantly, it belongs to a serious lineage of rape movies such as Alfred Hitchcock's Blackmail (the cinema's first classic account of a date rape), Jörn Donner's Manrape (a faithful adaptation of Märta Tikkanen's militant feminist novel) and Jonathan Kaplan's The Accused (with Jodie Foster playing the victim of gang rape).

Emerald Fennell won deservedly an Academy Award for her complex and multi-layered screenplay. Equally outstanding is her grip as a director on genre conventions. She adapts them imaginatively to bring a novel approach to issues that are deadly earnest.

Carey Mulligan is brilliant in the leading role. Cassandra Thomas was a top student at the medical school, but now she is happy to remain a coffeehouse barista. She leads a double life: at night she turns into a decoy, using varying outfits and disguises to attract predatory men.

The cinematographer Benjamin Kračun was influenced by the visuals of romantic comedies, adapting Panavision to a softer image and using a light from above to create a halo effect around Cassie's head. On the other hand, he consulted the colour palette of the music videos of the 1990s, including neon. To represent Cassie, he used Bleu de France.

Prominent on the soundtrack are girls' favourite pop songs of the recent decades, including Charli XCX ("Boys"), Spice Girls ("2 Become 1"), Paris Hilton ("Stars Are Blind") and Britney Spears ("Toxic").

As for the production design, Michael T. Perry created a "suburbia as designed by David Lynch". After the university tragedy, Cassie has returned to live at her parents' home, in the room where she lived as a teenager and in which apparently nothing has changed. Tellingly, her parents give her a pink suitcase as a gift for her 30th birthday.

Costume design plays a central role. Nancy Steiner has created for Cassie's wardrobe a whole array of themes and concepts for her nocturnal adventures, including a lethal nurse dress for the climactic bachelor party.

The dresses are disturbing in their sexuality. They express body consciousness with a touch of the burlesque, but their true meaning is not to objectify Cassie for the male gaze. Instead, they turn the tables for the reversal of the look when Cassie drops the drunken woman disguise.

All through the film, Cassie plays with the stripper image. The males expect her to strip her clothes. Instead, she reveals her cunning plot.


Promising Young Woman shares features with classic revenge tragedies such as Hamlet (the avenger is killed, there is a play within a play, madness is feigned, disguises are important).

Revenge is the opposite of justice. The obsession with revenge leads to the regression, brutalization and degeneration of the protagonist. She becomes a victim of a Wiederholungszwang, endlessly returning to the scene of the trauma.

But much more importantly, of course, the gang rape of Cassie's best friend Nina, the crime that has traumatized Cassie, is the opposite of justice, and even more the way it was processed by all eye-witnesses (who lied about it), the female dean (who swept it under the carpet) and the defense lawyer of the offender (who harassed Nina to drop charges). Horrified, Cassie and Nina dropped out, and with a video of the act circulating, Nina committed suicide.

As we know from news media, a case of a female student being raped at a top university and the rapist being left unpunished is not exceptional. Promising Young Woman is a film "about how we have all been complicit in a toxic sexist abusive culture" (Emerald Fennell).

Like in a dream, Promising Young Woman dives into the escapist world of genre cinema. But it keeps returning to reality with a vengeance.



Boys (Droeloe Remix)
Written by Ingrid Andress, Jerker Hansson, Lauv (as Ari Leff), Cass Lowe, Michael Pollack & Emily Warren (as Emily Schwartz)
Performed by Charli XCX
Courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp./Warner Music UK Ltd.
By arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing
Remixed by Droeloe

Written, Produced & Performed by Maya B
Courtesy of Capitol Records under license from Universal Music Enterprises

2 Become 1
Written by Victoria Beckham, Mel B (as Melanie Brown), Emma Bunton, Melanie C (as Melanie Chisholm), Geri Horner (as Geraldine Halliwell), Matt Rowe & Richard Stannard
Performed by Spice Girls
Courtesy of Virgin Records Ltd under license from Universal Music Enterprises

It's Raining Men
Written by Paul Jabara & Paul Shaffer
Performed by DeathbyRomy
Courtesy of Capitol Records

Written by John Phillip Clark (as JP Clark), Ryan Daly & Cyn (as Cynthia Nabozny)
Performed by Cyn
Courtesy of Unsub Records

Written by Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin & Naomi McPherson
Performed by MUNA
Courtesy of RCA Records
By arrangement with Sony Music Entertainment

Nothing's Gonna Hurt You Baby
Written by Greg Gonzalez (as Gregory Gonzalez)
Performed by Donna Missal
Courtesy of Harvest Records

Petite Fille Amour
Written by Jacqueline Taïeb & Catherine Podguszer
Performed by Jacqueline Taïeb
Courtesy of LoveCat Music and Editions FGL

He Hit Me (and It Felt Like a Kiss)
Written by Gerry Goffin & Carole King
Performed by Carmen DeLeon
Courtesy of Capitol Records

Can't Help the Way I Feel
Written by Lily Jurkiewicz, Madeleine Jurkiewicz & Daniel Tashian
Performed by Lily & Madeleine
Courtesy of New West Records
By arrangement with Sugaroo!

Uh Oh
Written by Cyn (as Cynthia Nabozny), Matias Mora & Mia Minichiello
Performed by Cyn
Courtesy of Unsub Records

Prelude and Liebestod
Written by Richard Wagner
Performed by Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest (as Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra), Bernard Haitink
Courtesy of Universal International Music B.V. under license from Universal Music Enterprises

Downhill Lullaby
Written by Tamaryn Brown (as Tamaryn), Jorge Elbrecht & Sky Ferreira
Performed by Sky Ferreira
Courtesy of Capitol Records under license from Universal Music Enterprises

Ur Eyes
Written by Bright Black & Alison Wonderland (as Alexandra Sholler)
Performed by BLESSUS
Courtesy of EMI/Universal Music Australia Pty Ltd

Stars Are Blind
Written by Kentrick Patrick, Fernando Garibay, Ralph McCarthy & Sheppard Solomon
Performed by Paris Hilton
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records
By arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing

Endless Love
Written by Lionel Richie
Performed by Joseph Trapanese and Max Davidoff-Grey
Courtesy of Blue Bonsai Music

Cardio Burst
Written by Emanuel Kallins & Steve Skinner
Courtesy of FirstCom Music, Inc.

From the MGM film The Night of the Hunter (1955)
Written by Walter Schumann
Performed by Kitty White
Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Music Inc.

Written by Cathy Dennis, Henry Jonback (as Henrik Jonback), Christian Karlsson & Pontus Winnberg
Arranged by Anthony Willis and Steven Baker

Come and Play with Me
Written by Romy Flores & Andy Rosen
Performed by DeathbyRomy
Courtesy of Capitol Records

Fuck Em Up Sis
Written by Renni Rucci
Performed by Renni Rucci
Courtesy of Wolf Pack Global Music/Caroline Records under license from Universal Music Enterprises

Something Wonderful
Written by Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II
Performed by Terry Saunders
Courtesy of Capitol Records under license from Universal Music Enterprises

Pachelbel's Canon
Written by Johann Pachelbel

Angel of the Morning
Written by Chip Taylor
Performed by Juice Newton
Mixed by Michael Verdick
Courtesy of Capitol Records under license from Universal Music Enterprises

Last Laugh
Written by Fletcher (as Cari Fletcher), One Love (as Tim Sommers) & Kinetics (as Jeremy Dussolliet)
Performed by Fletcher
Courtesy of Capitol Records

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