Promising Young Woman has been praised with five-star reviews and a slew of awards and nominations since its release to the public this month. Directed by Emerald Fennell, the film follows Cassie (Carey Mulligan) who seeks to avenge the death of her best friend, a victim of rape. The groundbreaking project has now shed further light on topics such as gender equality and toxic masculinity. Fennell spoke with Glamour this month to speak on a little-publicised issue, seduction culture.
“This subject touches a lot of people and we have been very, very conscious of that,” Fennel tells the publication. “The truth of it is we live in and we’ve grown up in a culture where we’ve all been complicit, because we haven’t thought very deeply about it. Certainly if you’re British and American, getting people drunk and taking them home is still a huge part of our seduction culture. It is a grey area that’s so important to interrogate every kind of side of it.”
It opens up the conversation around whether we’re romanticising the notion of “playing hard to get”. Harassment can often be confused for friendly persistence and as Fennel notes, being complicit isn’t necessarily a resounding “YES!”.
Fennel who has also starred in The Crown and Call the Midwife, won two BAFTA awards – Outstanding British Film and Best Original Screenplay – this month for the film and is also the first female British film director to be nominated for an Oscar. Speaking on being a female filmmaker and equality within the film and television industry, Fennel believes it is actually those who are oppressing gender equality that can make the most change.
“I genuinely want to know what male filmmakers and male actors think about [the film],” the director said. “Because up to a point all we can do is make the work. The people who can actually change it are the people who are putting the obstacles up. We collectively need to widen the conversation. I want Promising Young Woman to be accessible to everyone and it’s not effective as a movie if the only people who go and see it are the people who already know about this. It’s a conversation we all need to start having more honestly.”
The film has been released at an apt time. It follows the merciless death of Sarah Everard at the hands of a British police officer as well as the larger conversation around sexual assault at a government level in Australia. Nonetheless, it is a must-watch whether you’re male or female.
Last week it was announced that the film would be streamed free for college students.