In recent years, the film industry has witnessed a growing demand for diverse and empowering representations of women on the screen. One film that has garnered significant attention and acclaim for its groundbreaking portrayal of female empowerment is Promising Young Woman. The film challenges societal norms and addresses crucial issues of consent, assault, and gender roles.
Cassie, a former medical student, leads a double life: she goes to a bar and pretends to be drunk, waits for a man to take advantage of her by taking her home, then reveals her sobriety and confronts them, forcing them to face the consequences of their actions. Her motivation is past trauma; her best friend was a victim of severe assault. The film delves into the complexities of trauma, consent, and the lengths one woman will go to demand accountability in a world that often turns a blind eye to sexual assault.
Throughout the film, Cassie takes control of her own narrative and becomes a symbol of empowerment. It is also an unflinching portrayal of the complexities surrounding consent and sexual assault, prompting important discussions. Through several male characters, the film deconstructs the "nice guy" trope by exposing the dangers of performative kindness and the manipulation it can result in.
The ending, however, is where I feel the film really falls short (spoiler alert). Cassie finds her best friend's abuser, and decides to punish him for his actions, but he breaks free and suffocates her with a pillow; he gets rid of her body and everyone assumes she's missing. In the end, they are caught by the police, which is seen as a moment of triumph in the film. However, her death left a bad taste in my mouth as a viewer.
While I do salute the boldness of the film, and I'm sure it was meant to be empowering, I simply fail to see the big victory in the end if Cassie ends up losing her life. Even if it was meant to be a gut punch to the viewers and truly give the audience a woman's perspective, I feel it falls into a morally grey area. The decision to give her a tragic fate might be grounded in reality and meant to elicit strong emotions, but it raises some questions about the film's overall message and its stance on empowerment. Nevertheless, the impact and significance of Promising Young Woman's exploration of consent and empowerment should not be dismissed, as it serves as a catalyst for continued discussions on these crucial issues within our society.