Yesterday, I wrote a story about Ilana Glazer‘s new A24 horror movie False Positive that mentioned a story I’ve been working on about films with capital-C Crazy premises. False Positive was going to be the first film on that list, and the second film was going to be Focus Features’ upcoming Carey Mulligan thriller Promising Young Woman, whose supporting cast was just announced. I’ll fill you in on those names in a second, but first we have to talk about this plot, since Focus’ announcement walks right up to the line before chickening out.
From Focus: “Everyone said Cassie (Mulligan) was a promising young woman … until a tragic event abruptly derailed her future. Now she’s a medical school drop-out, living at home with her worried parents and working at a coffee shop with a concerned boss. It seems like she is at a standstill, except for the double life Cassie leads at night…”
It’s a decent tease. We get the gist. The protagonist had everything going for her, then something happened, and now all that potential is null and void. But what is this double life the studio is alluding to? Is Carey Mulligan playing a serial killer? A superhero? What if I told you it was kind of a mixture?
See, the truth is that Mulligan will play a woman who goes to various bars and clubs, pretends to be super drunk, and allows men to pick her up and take her home with them. The thing is, she’s actually sober, and when they try and take advantage of her, she tries to scare them straight in an attempt to seek retribution for the trauma that derailed her once-promising life.
This, my friends, is a wild premise. I’ve always liked films like Hard Candy in which the hunted become the hunter, but this film feels particularly timely in the era of #MeToo. And as I understand the story, it isn’t just about getting revenge on the perpetrators of these heinous crimes, but also on those complicit in the act — which, make no mistake, is rape. If a woman is too intoxicated to give her consent, that’s rape, no matter how you slice it. Speaking of which, I’ll be interested to see if there’s any, um, slicing in this movie, if you catch my drift.
Anyway, that’s the premise. Bo Burnham (Eighth Grade) will play the male lead and Laverne Cox (Orange Is the New Black) will play Mulligan’s boss. Joining them will be Alison Brie (GLOW), Connie Britton (Dirty John), Adam Brody (Shazam!), Jennifer Coolidge (Legally Blonde), Max Greenfield (New Girl), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad), Sam Richardson (Veep), and Molly Shannon (Divorce).
British actress Emerald Fennell (The Crown) will direct from her own original screenplay, and she’ll also produce alongside FilmNation’s Ben Browning, and LuckyChap Entertainment’s Margot Robbie, Josey McNamara and Tom Ackerley. FilmNation’s Ashley Fox will serve as executive producer, while Fiona Walsh Heinz will serve as co-producer.
“I am beyond excited to be working with so many impossibly talented and wonderful people on Promising Young Woman,” said Fennell. “Frankly, I feel lucky to be allowed anywhere in the vicinity of so many geniuses, and I can’t wait to bring this twisted tale to life.”
Well, as a fan of such twisted tales, I can’t wait to see what Fennell does with this kind of provocative material, which could be tricky in terms of tone. She’s got an ace up her sleeve though in Mulligan, one of Hollywood’s most versatile performers, and an actress whose wrenching performance in last year’s Wildlife was woefully overlooked by awards voters. Promising Young Woman offers Mulligan another role she can really sink her teeth into… I’m just curious how much “teeth” this studio movie will ultimately show.