Promising Young Woman: Film Review

Promising Young Woman

Back in early 2020, before the cinemas closed, I saw the trailer for Emerald Fennell‘s Promising Young Woman before I watched a movie and I was like, “This looks amazing, I can’t wait to see it!” and that feeling hasn’t left me in the many months that’s passed since that moment. And now, after many delays, I have FINALLY seen Promising Young Woman.

The film stars Carey Mulligan as Cassandra ‘Cassie’ Thomas, who pretends to be drunk in bars to trick men into taking her home for sex so she can teach them a lesson about consent. She has also has a five-part plan to get revenge on the men who sexually assaulted her best friend Nina in college as well as those who knew about it and did nothing.

This is an unapologetic, daring, blistering film which has a lot to say about sexual assault, consent, and how female victims are usually blamed for what happens to them while the men get the benefit of the doubt. It also addresses the old movie trope of men having their way with women when they’re too drunk to consent – that seemed acceptable and normal back then and Promising Young Woman drives home the message that this is very much not OK.

It’s impressive that this is Fennell’s directorial debut because she pitched it perfectly. I wasn’t sold on a couple of scenes – the Stars are Blind moment in the pharmacy and the very end – but otherwise I thought Fennell had complete control of the tone, how dark she wanted it to go and where she wanted Cassie to sit on the sane/crazy scale. Her screenplay is smart and very well-written; she makes her points loud and clear without making it preachy and occasionally softens the revenge thriller aspect with some romantic comedy moments. I also loved the pastel colour palette, Cassie’s feminine clothes and her cute manicure, and how they worked in contrast to the darkness of the subject matter.

Promising Young Woman

Fennell’s casting was also spot-on. Mulligan wouldn’t usually be first choice for Cassie because she is best known for her work in period dramas and as “nice” characters and this unexpected casting makes her performance so much more exciting. I love it when actors get to do something completely different. I enjoyed watching her playing such a bold ballsy role, dressing up in sexy outfits, always looking in control in difficult situations, and confronting people about tough subjects with a smile on her face like it’s a normal casual conversation. Mulligan nails the part and I’m so thrilled she’s been Oscar nominated for it.

But it’s not just the lead role that Fennell aced the casting with – I’m not too familiar with Bo Burnham‘s onscreen acting work but I thought he was the right fit as Cassie’s love interest Ryan; he was cute, awkward, and funny and I liked his personality. And then there are so many actors I love in small roles, like Alison Brie as Cassie’s neurotic former friend Madison, Molly Shannon as Nina’s sympathetic mum, Alfred Molina as a remorseful lawyer, and Connie Britton as the dean of Cassie’s old college. And it was smart casting actors you would normally associate with good guy roles as Cassie’s targets, such as Adam Brody, Max Greenfield, Chris Lowell, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

I have to talk about that ending. You’ll be getting no spoilers from me as you should go into this film knowing as little as possible – but holy cow! The conclusion left me reeling and struggling to process my thoughts so I’m glad they managed to come together so I could write this review. It will leave you thinking for hours after the credits roll.

I’d been hyped for this release for a long time so I was expecting perfection, which is a huge amount of expectation to put on a film! It wasn’t perfect but I loved basically everything about it – the concept, the points Fennell makes, the casting, the wardrobe, the soundtrack (that string version of Toxic is so chilling!) and it deserves every success it’s had this awards season. I don’t think it’ll win the Best Picture Oscar but I would love it to win Best Original Screenplay.

Do yourselves a favour and go watch this film.

Available on Sky Cinema and NOW from Friday 16th April

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Happiest Season: Film Review

Happiest Season

Feeling in the mood for a fun, lovely, delightful Christmas movie? Then look no further than Happiest Season.

Clea DuVall‘s film stars Kristen Stewart as Abby and Mackenzie Davis as her girlfriend Harper, who invites her home for the holidays for the first time. What seems like a big step in their relationship is soon crushed with the revelation that Harper is still in the closet and she needs them to pretend to be straight roommates during the five-day visit.

This is the first major studio-backed same-sex festive film, as Christmas movies are largely dominated by white straight characters. It shouldn’t be such a historic, pivotal moment for representation in 2020 but it is – and what makes it even more exciting is that it is a traditional, conventional romcom – it has all the hallmarks of ‘meet the parents’ and ‘going home for the holidays’ films – but it just happens to star a lesbian couple.

Romantic comedy is a genre I’ve always embraced but the heyday of quality ones seems to have been and gone. Happiest Season gives me hope because it’s well-written, there are great characters and relationships, and the ensemble cast is terrific. However, it does suffer from the chronic romcom issue of being predictable, but that’s fine because we came here for warm fuzzy festive feelings. Also, there weren’t enough laugh-out-loud moments. It was always entertaining, captivating, and amusing (and occasionally moving) but I really wanted a hearty laugh and didn’t get that. It’s also tied up a bit too neatly at the end but I can forgive that too.

The cast is the film’s biggest strength. I love Stewart in absolutely everything so me enjoying her performance here is a given, but she brought great warmth and heart to the role and I liked seeing her in this type of film. She had convincing chemistry with Davis, an actress I adore.

The stars of the show are in the supporting cast though – first up is Dan Levy as Abby’s gay best friend John. He was fabulous, so much fun, made me smile the most, and has the most moving moment in the movie – his monologue is powerful and I imagine gay viewers will relate to it very well. Secondly, I loved Aubrey Plaza as Riley, who has a history with Harper. She’s a lifeline for Abby when she’s in need of normality outside of the highly-strung, perfectionist family and I liked that friendship. Then there’s Mary Holland, who co-wrote the movie with DuVall. She shines as the oddball weirdo Jane, who just wants to be noticed as the constantly overlooked middle child. The ensemble cast is rounded out by Alison Brie as the bitchy sister Sloane (we’ve seen Brie in this role before), and Mary Steenburgen and Victor Garber as Harper’s parents.

Happiest Season isn’t perfect but it gave me pretty much what I wanted from a festive romcom this year. It’s an absolute delight and I’ll happily watch it again.

Released on digital platforms such as Amazon Prime and iTunes on Thursday 26th November. Available on Sky Cinema and Now TV from 18 December.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Lego Movie 2: Film Review

I was a huge fan of 2014’s The Lego Movie – it was hilarious and so so clever – but that years ago now and we’ve had The Lego Batman Movie since then and I didn’t love that one as much (and I didn’t even watch the Ninjago one). So I had no idea what to expect from the second outing – full title The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part – so I’m pleased to report that it is just as funny and smart as the first.

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Golden Globes 2018: Best & Worst Dressed

Unless you have been living under a rock, you will know that the actors and actresses attending the Golden Globes last night wore black to support the Time’s Up movement. Here are some of my favourite looks of the night.

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The Disaster Artist: Film Review

James Franco hadn’t been in much memorable stuff since 127 Hours in 2010, but he changed that around this year with both TV series The Deuce and The Disaster Artist. His performance in the movie, which he also directed and produced, is his best in years and he definitely deserves a Golden Globe nomination (an Oscar is too far).

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How to be Single: Film Review

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The romcom genre has been saved! Okay, so I probably won’t go QUITE that far but How to Be Single really feels like the best romantic comedy I have seen in a long time as it manages to avoid some of the formulaic and predictable plot points we have come to expect.

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People’s Choice Awards: Best & Worst Dressed

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Yay! Awards season is officially back. It all kicked off last night with the People’s Choice Awards in Los Angeles. You can find out all the winners here – but let’s be honest, these things are just as much about the red carpet style!

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Sleeping with Other People: Film Review

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Romantic comedies have a bad rep but I personally love them and Sleeping with Other People is no exception. It is smart, it is funny and Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie are delightful to watch.

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