A 2021 Film Journey: Day 5

Bear with me, I’m going to take you on a journey about my movie pick for today. In the end of 2011, my love for movies was already well established, but I had never really tracked what I had watched before. Then, in service of building my excel skills for my resume, I started keeping track of all the films I watched in the spreadsheet. Nine years later, it’s time to log my 2,000th unique film. It may be completely arbitrary milestone, but since I noticed it, I thought it was worthy of something a little special. I’m still working through my 2020 back log, but only one of the films on my list stars my favorite actress…

Promising Young Woman (2020, Dir. Emerald Fennell)

Carey Mulligan is ready to shock you with 'Promising Young Woman'

I’m so glad that I chose this film for this makeshift movie milestone. As I hinted at above, Carey Mulligan is my favorite actress. Ever since watching her performance as Sissy in Shame (2011, Dir. Steve McQueen) on the big screen I fell in love. Her newest performance as the 30-year-old Cassie in Promising Young Woman is another masterful role under her belt. The entire film hinges on her performance, and she sells the traumatized to the point of being violently unhinged while still seriously hurting and fragile. Every decision she makes feels perfectly in character. She even manages to overcome a less than tonally appropriate performance by her co-star Bo Burnham keeping the story focused.

Emerald Fennell shows a wealth of cinematic knowledge for someone making her first film. Playing off the traditional revenge fantasy trope, Fennell taps into the deeper horror that permeates the psyche of a woman forced to undergo the worst thing imaginable. The revenge in Promising Young Woman never takes on a cathartic feel; the damage has been done and the revenge acts only as punishment, not as a release from the pain. Trauma is unending, and that is what makes the damage so insidious. Cassie may have lived a decade past the event, but her life ended that day.

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