Carey Mulligan's new revenge thriller Promising Young Woman plays out like a black comedy dealing with very heavy issues. Mulligan stars as Cassie, a woman who is reeling from the trauma of losing her best friend to rape and sets out on a path to revenge. The director of the film, Emerald Fennell, recently weighed in on the much-discussed, and deeply divisive ending, which saw Cassie finally come face-to-face with her friend's rapist and gain the upper hand, only to then be overpowered.
"The thing about Cassie is that she's meticulous and she's smart. And she, like I would, like any woman would, knows that if she is going to go to the cabin [where the villain resided] and she's going to go to the cabin with a weapon - which is something she's never done before - there's going to be a chance that things will go wrong. She has a contingency plan for if it does go wrong, but she's also so angry and so determined to see him and to, and again it's very much an addictive cycle with Cassie. And the thing about the spiral that she's under is that she's, like any addictive spiral, things get faster and faster and closer and closer and the behavior gets more and more extreme. And I think that she kind of has avoided this because she knows it's going to make her likely to make a mistake, and the mistake that she makes is she doesn't tighten the handcuff enough."
While showing the heroine being temporarily overpowered by the villain is a time-honored tradition in films, what made the ending of Promising Young Woman so divisive was the fact that (SPOILERS!), not only does Cassie fall into the villain's hands, but he also ends up murdering her and disposing of the body.
Although Cassie had formulated a backup plan which ensured the villain was jailed for his crimes, the fact that the female protagonist died so brutally has become a sore spot for fans. According to Fennell, while it is understandable that audiences would want Cassie to be triumphant, there was no realistic way to end the film that would have resulted in a happy ending for the character.
"I think that there was, for me certainly, the other ending would have been Cassie murders everyone and then goes to jail for the rest of her life and lives with that horror. There was no happy ending to this movie. All there is, is somebody who needs to show people, to deliver justice. And she does do that, but at a very, very heavy price. I didn't believe that a woman of Cassie's size would be able to physically overpower a very strong man. All of that stuff. And it was important that it interrogated the myth of the revenge journey."
Promising Young Woman has promising Oscar prospects. Written directed and co-produced by Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman features a lead cast consisting of Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Connie Britton, and Laverne Cox. This news comes from Collider.