At the 2021 Academy Awards, the subject matter of sexual assault and toxic masculinity took centre stage as Emerald Fennell was honoured with Best Original Screenplay for Promising Young Woman – her directorial debut.
This film was made by the most incredible people in the world, who made it in 23 days. Just, and brought their complete genius and love and humour to it,” Fennell said in her acceptance speech. “And I have so many people to thank. I feel mortified that I’m here by myself when it’s not just my job at all. I want to thank Carey Mulligan for being not only the most talented person in the world, but the kindest and funniest. I want to thank the producers for standing behind this film always and, you know, never giving up, and Lucky Chap, Focus, FilmNation.”
“The cast and the crew, the greatest in the world, the kindest in the world. They just made me look good and again, I’m just so grateful.”
The film follows Cassie (Carey Mulligan) who seeks to avenge the death of her best friend Nina, a victim of rape. Not only does Cassie confront the men responsible for the grievous crime, she highlights how women are complicit too.
I was warned in the lead up to watching the film that it’d force me to question my past actions as a woman. In fact, this film will forever be embedded in my mind. Today, Promising Young Woman was honoured the way it deserves; on the global stage, via Hollywood the centre of the #MeToo movement. Fennell was a strong favourite for the Academy Award after winning Best Original Screenplay at the BAFTAs and Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Writing on the film in an essay for The Times, she said, “I wanted to write something that didn’t feel like medicine, that would be accessible and gripping and funny, even at its darkest,” Fennell said. “A film that anyone could watch and discuss: a poison popcorn movie.”
Fennell is also known for her roles in Netflix series, The Crown and Call The Midwife. What’s next? We can only look forward to more meaningful, grappling filmmaking to come.
This month it was announced the film would be available for college students to stream for free.