Revenge is wrapped up in a bow (or more precisely, a scrunchie) in writer/director Emerald Fennell’s debut film, Promising Young Woman. After premiering to rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival in February of this year, the distribution of this movie starring a magnificent Carey Mulligan was put on hold (like so many other things) due to the spread of COVID-19. And just like that, a promising young film was put into a precarious position.
Fortunately, vengeance—at least against the virus—is coming soon. And with it, the reslated release of Promising Young Woman on Christmas Day in select theaters and on-demand in the new year. While quarantine fatigue set in months ago, the anticipation and excitement around this peculiar pastel-hued thriller have not dissipated, which is why it was an absolute delight to speak with Mulligan and co-star Alison Brie about the film this week over Zoom.
Both Brie and Mulligan’s passion and enthusiasm for this creative undertaking and Fennell, in particular, was palpable, as well as the underlying seriousness of this atypical revenge story which challenges the viewer to consider the roles they’ve played in perpetuating, excusing, or even silencing victims of sexual assault. This toxic, pervasive element in our culture (particularly in Hollywood) had a reckoning with the emergence of the MeToo movement in 2017. But instead of a viral infection, the plague of assault is far more insidious and difficult to cure, socially speaking. With that in mind, it is not lost on the viewer that Mulligan’s character, Cassandra, was pursuing a medical degree before her life was turned upside down. Her approach, while at times curative, focuses more on the eradication of assault.
For better or worse, revenge is a tale as old as time. Without revealing any spoilers, both Mulligan and Brie, two self-described “nice gals,” shared what it was like to play against type, confront inner demons, and bring Fennell’s cleverly constructed brand of candy-colored chaos to life in a pre-pandemic world.