Promising Young Woman (2020) Review

Promising Young Woman (2020)

Directed & Written by Emerald Fennell

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox, Connie Britton

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A young woman, traumatized by a tragic event in her past, seeks out vengeance against those who crossed her path.

My Opinion:

I honestly wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this film before seeing it. Movies are difficult nowadays. Many films have had strong beliefs throughout the years but I feel those from the past ten years or so (and especially in the past five years) present those beliefs in a very different way. I’ve never been against movies with strong or controversial opinions, even if I don’t agree with them. I’m just very against how forced this feels in so many films now. An important and worthy topic doesn’t automatically make a film “good”. I still want a good script, good characters, a gorgeous score & cinematography, and all that other good shit that makes the very best movies true works of art. It’s great if a film has all of that good shit and also manages to have a really good message. I admit that with Oscar nominees these days I always wonder if I’m going to see a strong message with a mediocre film written around it or a good film that also happens to have a strong message that works well within that film.

I did a horrible job explaining that. What I’m saying is that I wondered if Promising Young Woman would be a full-on “all men are evil and must die” movie. Hey, I’m a woman – I’m not gonna pretend I don’t like a good revenge film. Of course I feel strongly about this topic. I’ve always been uncomfortable with “rape revenge” films, though. Although I try to watch most every type of movie that I possibly can to have a fully informed opinion, this is one subgenre I haven’t explored much. I’m not going to look into it, either, as it’s something I don’t want to go searching for but I do wonder how many of these films were made by women? I admit that I probably watched the worst possible example of this subgenre (the 1978 I Spit On Your Grave), so I didn’t want some gory “kill all the men” bloodbath. Exploitation flicks have their place, I guess, but they’ve been done. And I especially didn’t want an extremely exploitative rape scene as in that film. Women don’t want to see that. Those films are made for the excuse to have a graphic rape scene. No thanks. It’s possible to empathise with the victim & want her to get revenge without seeing in graphic detail what happens to her.

Okay, I don’t want to say the word rape anymore. I hate it. Just trying to explain that I wasn’t sure what this movie was going to be. I liked Promising Young Woman a lot. I may have even kind of loved it a little. I’m still not completely sure of the rating I want to give it, though. I feel it’s one of those that I need to think about for a while before I know how I really feel as I can see my opinion of this either going up a lot or possibly going down ever so slightly. I’m really not sure! I felt this way about Mandy… I knew I liked it a lot after seeing it. But after a few months or so of thinking about it, I realised I loved that crazy ass movie & that it’s easily an absolute favorite from recent years. Anyone else ever feel that way about a movie?? I think it’s because I love a divisive film. They excite me. I see too many bland & totally forgettable movies. I’d rather see a slightly “bad” film that’s maybe a bit weird or has a very memorable scene or two than the hundreds of truly boring duds I’ve seen since starting this blog. (Not that Mandy or Promising Young Woman are bad – I think they’re both very good films that are just unconventional)

Carey Mulligan is great in this. We’re all so used to seeing her in “worthy” Suffragette type roles (although I did like that film). But it was fun seeing her like this & I liked her a lot. Although I don’t know if I exactly liked her character. And that’s what I liked! How many times can I say “like”?! I thought this movie did well with the balance I thought it wouldn’t get right. No, it doesn’t portray men in a great light. But it also didn’t have an “all men are bad & all women are good” message. I hate movies like that (unless you’re talking fun sci-fi or fantasy films – I do want straightforward good vs evil in something like Star Wars). But this movie is dealing with a serious real life issue & real life isn’t so black & white. Mulligan’s character is flawed & damaged. You feel for her and you’re on her side but you also don’t always necessarily agree with her & all her methods. You know what else was good? She wasn’t just some kick-ass bitch. I mean, I love a kick-ass bitch! Ellen Ripley rules. But we already have some great female characters like that to look up to so I liked seeing someone more real in this. It’s more relatable. And even when you think she may take some things a little too far, it’s helped by the fact that she’s avenging her best friend. Also, I loved how she fucked with peoples’ minds. That was great & more fun than some super violent revenge porn.

Mulligan is definitely the best thing about this but I also enjoyed the characters played by Bo Burnham & Laverne Cox and their relationships with Mulligan’s character. Clancy Brown & Jennifer Coolidge were also good as her frustrated parents. I was expecting more dark comedy than we got in this, though. I’d have liked much more of that as what we did get worked pretty well. I’d heard beforehand that this movie is sort of a mix of genres and I loved that (as I said, I like unconventional & unpredictable). It was probably hard to classify this film but I’m not sure if I’d agree with those who have included “comedy” in its description. I think some people were probably expecting something very different and can see some really hating this movie but I was pleasantly surprised with how the story played out & loved that it wasn’t at all predictable. I SO wish I hadn’t had the ending spoiled for me on Twitter. Oh, and I liked her colorful fingernails! I liked the use of girly colors in this film (it reminded me of the end of Waitress, a movie I absolutely love).

Well, I’ve rambled on long enough. I know I must have found this film interesting as I haven’t done one of these long rambling “reviews” where I try to sort out my thoughts on a film in a long time. I think the only long reviews I did in recent years were for Mandy, Midsommar & Deep Red. I really liked this film. I’m still thinking about it three days later, especially its unexpected ending. I keep going back & forth on what I want to rate it. 8 & up means I really loved a movie and/or I thought it was a really good film. Is Promising Young Woman worthy of being a Best Picture Oscar nominee? These days it is. It’s certainly my favorite of those nominees I’ve seen so far. But it wouldn’t have been nominated years ago. I’m curious what I’ll think of this one 20 years from now. I look back at some nominees & think “How the hell did that get nominated?”. Will I think that about this? I don’t think so. I’m glad something a little bit unusual & a film that I actually *wanted* to watch is nominated.

My Rating: 8/10

*I may edit this post later & give it 8/10. I don’t know!

**Okay, I did it!

Flubber (1997) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Rob of MovieRob. This is his second review after Home Alone. And he intends to do many more! Thanks for being so excited about this blogathon, Rob! Now let’s see if he liked Flubber. ๐Ÿ™‚

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“I love you with every cell, with every atom. I love you on a subatomic level.” – Philip Brainard

Number of Times Seen โ€“ 1 (10 Mar 2014)

Brief Synopsis โ€“ An absent minded professor creates a new substance and wants to use it to save his college from being closed down.

My Take on it โ€“ In general, I’m not much of a fan of remakes and this one is not an exception to that rule.

As I kid, I recall seeing the original Absent-Minded Professor (1961), and my memories at least make it better than this one was.

I was soooo bored during this movie even though it had Robin Williams with his exuberant energy throughout. The effects (even for 1997) were atrocious. Apparently there wasn’t much of a budget for this movie in order to make it seem like it was made in the 90’s and not in the 60’s or 70’s.

This movie also gave off the feel and vibe of possibly being a made for TV movie. Besides the special effects, everything just seemed really dumbed down that it seemed like a movie of the week and not a feature film.

There is little to no chemistry between the characters. Williams is suppose to be madly in love with Marcia Gay Harden, but I felt absolutely nothing for them and the fact that she was ready to marry someone else if Williams forgot again to make it to the chapel on time.

Wil Wheaton is horribly cast as a sniveling rich kid who tries to do mean things because Williams is threatening to flunk him and it doesn’t work. He will always be the goody-two shoes Wesley Crusher in my eyes and every attempt to put him elsewhere just doesn’t work. I recall seeing him in Toy Soldiers (1991) as a gangsters son and he was also way outta place there.

This was one of Hughes worst screenplays IMHO. Stick to the original with Fred MacMurray.

Bottom Line – Complete waste of time. Watch the original, it’s much better!

Rating โ€“ Razzie Worthy

CPD Classics: The Shawshank Redemption (1994) Review

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The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Directed by Frank Darabont

Based on Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King

Starring:
Tim Robbins
Morgan Freeman
Bob Gunton
William Sadler
Clancy Brown
Gil Bellows
Mark Rolston
James Whitmore
Jeffrey DeMunn

Music by Thomas Newman

Running time: 142 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Andy Dufresne is a banker sent to Shawshank State Prison after being convicted of murdering his wife and her lover. While there, be becomes friends with fellow inmate Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding. Through years of hardship, Andy maintains his innocence and never gives up hope.

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Why It’s A CPD Classic:

First off, I’ll point out that this is in the IMDB Top 250 so I figured it would be a good one to do today to help kick off all the guest IMDB Top 250 reviews that I’ll start posting next week (More about that after the review). And what a place to start! The Shawshank Redemption takes the number one spot, having been voted as the best movie of all-time by IMDB users. So why is that….?

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I’m a Shawshank lover. Yep – I’m one of those mainstream masses who is perfectly happy to see Shawshank at number one above the likes of The Godfather and Citizen Kane. Yep – it’s a “feel good” movie. Yep – it may sometimes try a little too hard to be a “feel good” movie. You know what? I don’t care. Because this movie DOES make me feel good! And there’s nothing wrong with that. And most importantly, to me, it has these amazing feel good moments yet it doesn’t feel contrived. Most of us film lovers can see right through that. If Shawshank was guilty of that, it wouldn’t have stayed in the number one spot for all these years. It tells a pretty straight forward story in a straight forward way. I suppose thanks can go to Stephen King for that, my very favorite author and whose adapted works will be featuring more than just this once in my CPD Classics series.

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But clearly the combination of Stephen King & Frank Darabont just WORKS. The Green Mile is also absolutely fantastic and I think The Mist is a great underrated film. Oh, and I have to mention a third very important element: Thomas Newman. I ADORE so many Thomas Newman scores. He’s amazing & doesn’t quite seem to get the credit he deserves. Now isn’t the time to go into him, though, as I think I should devote an entire post to him someday.

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I don’t know if I need to go into any detail with this review. I would assume that most everyone has seen this movie by now and, if not, I think it’s extremely well known what happens in it anyway. I love this film and I’m clearly not alone in feeling this way, although I rarely see it mentioned amongst bloggers here so I’d love to know everyone’s thoughts on this one in the comments below. Is it too mainstream for the blogging crowd? Too obvious & “feel good”? Am I now going to be considered uncool and you’ll all run me out of (WordPress) town?

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I think there are a lot of things that make The Shawshank Redemption such a widely loved film and the movie just gets so many things “right” that they all combine to give us something spectacular: Feel good moments like the beer & opera scenes (which never fail to move me no matter how many times I watch this movie). Andy & Red’s friendship. The lesser characters such as Brooks & Heywood (and the heartbreakingly beautiful “Brooks Was Here” theme from Thomas Newman). Seeing the posters on the wall change, showing the passage of time. Alexandre Dumbass. The pet bird. Rita Hayworth. And, of course, the overall message of hope.

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More than anything, though, I think it’s Stephen King’s story and Darabont’s ability to give us scenes of pure beauty in a movie based someplace as awful as a prison, along with Thomas Newman’s amazing score plus superb narration from the always lovely-to-listen-to voice of Morgan Freeman which may all be most to thank for making The Shawshank Redemption as near to perfection as I think any film could ever really get. That’s why The Shawshank Redemption is a CPD Classic.

My Rating: 10/10

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(That’s the first 10 I’ve given on my site)

IMDB Top 250 Guest Reviews: Thanks once again to all who signed up to help me finish my IMDB Top 250 Challenge by doing guest reviews. I’m still amazed by the huge response and can’t believe I’ve already received some reviews! So I’ll be starting to post them next week (I’ll e-mail you to let you know when yours will be posted). There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone else would like to join in! You can find a list with the remaining movies HERE.

JOHN HUGHES BLOGATHON: Also, a quick reminder that March is when I’ll be having the John Hughes blogathon (so the Top 250 thing will go on hold for a month). I’ve had several reviews so far – thank you everyone! I’d like to receive the rest by the end of this month at the latest so that I can get them all scheduled & let you know when yours will be posted. Reviews can be e-mailed to tableninemutant at hotmail dot com. AND – I’d be happy for anyone to still join!!! You can do any film you want. See more details HERE. ๐Ÿ™‚