Content warning: This article contains content about violence against women, sexual assult and spoilers for the film.
Promising Young Woman is a movie that follows the story of a victim and bystander of sexual abuse. Cassie, an almost thirty-year-old medical school drop out, is emotionally scarred by a traumatic event involving male medical students and her childhood friend, Nina. Unable to move on from the occurrence, Cassie routinely pretends to be uncontrollably intoxicated at local bars and clubs in an effort to pick up men and taunt them for their inappropriate dating behaviour. One day, an old classmate enters her life and Cassie decides to avenge Nina once and for all. Promising Young Woman was written and directed by Emerald Fennell and came out in 2020. It stars Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham and Alison Brie as well as Jennifer Coolidge and Laverne Cox. Keep reading for more screen facts.
After landing the lead role, Emerald Fennell sent a playlist to Carey Mulligan which would set the tone of the film. “Toxic” by Britney Spears was featured twice. Fennell is an openly huge fan of Spears and feels this track is one of the greatest pop songs of all time.
The creator also wanted to make a point that female pop culture is not a derogatory guilty pleasure. Another femme pop song in the film is Paris Hilton’s “Stars are Blind.” Fennell said in an interview she wanted “a song that if the guy knew the lyrics to it, you would immediately fall in love with him.”
Emerald Fennell received an Oscar nomination for Best Director in 2021. Considering this was her directorial debut, an Oscar nomination is mega impressive. Fennell was also “very pregnant” during the 23 days of filming and gave birth 3 weeks after production finished.
In the same year, Chloe Zhao was nominated for Nomadland as well. This was the first time two women were nominated in the Best Director category in the same year. In addition, they were the sixth and seventh female directors to be nominated for Best Director in all of history. Zhao received the Oscar for Best Director in 2021.
Likely a Reference to Brock Turner
In 2016, Stanford University student and athlete Brock Turner was convicted of sexual assault. The particulars of his case were disturbing, it involved a completely unconscious woman named Chanel Miller.
He was only sentenced to six months in jail because a longer sentence would have a “severe impact on him” according to the judge. Part of the trial involved Miller reading a letter about the damage it did to her life. “Even if the sentence is light, hopefully this will wake people up,” she said. “I want the judge to know that he ignited a tiny fire. If anything, this is a reason for all of us to speak even louder.” Today, Turner works for a cooling technology company in Ohio and is a registered sex offender.
The judge also referenced Turner as a “promising young man”. It is presumed the title of Promising Young Woman is a direct reference to Turner’s case.