A promising young man?

05 November 2021
Behind the title of Emerald Fennell’s Oscar-winning offering.
Promising young woman artice

It has long been theorised that the title to Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman is about the infamous Brock Turner case, where the Stanford student was given only a six-month sentence but only served three for a sexual assault. This is based on the fact that the judge considered him to be a 'promising young man'.

The film however shows us what could be after 'a promising young woman' has her future ruined by 'promising young men' who suffer no consequences for wrong-doing. It takes us on a journey of evolution as Cassie attempts to enact revenge on those involved in her best friend’s sexual assault. It’s a gripping plot that champions retribution. The viewer gets to follow Cassie through her nights spent at bars, trying to lure men back to her place to teach them a “moral lesson.” 

The movie is also a breath of fresh air in regards to what a heroine can be. Carey Mulligan plays the role beautifully and has the viewer both question her choices but also stand with her as she toes the line between sociopath and heroine.

This is what she had to say about the title during an interview with an entertainment vlog:

“I don’t think that it was, but certainly that as a phrase is so commonly used when young men do something wrong,” Fennell says when asked if that was the intent. “They are almost always referred to as ‘promising young man’ whether it’s a case like this of assault or if they get a gun and do something completely reprehensible. There’s always this inclination to be forgiving. I believe entirely in forgiveness, but it’s an interesting thing, when you look at the phrase ‘promising young woman,’ it’s hardly ever used, and if it is used, it’s usually to describe a girl who’s no longer alive.

"You can only really be a 'promising young woman' when it's too late. When your promise is completely aborted."

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