Promising Young Woman is a razor-sharp black comedy with a haunting quality that is hard to shake

Promising Young Woman

(15) 114mins

★★★★★

WOMEN are mad these days.

What I mean by that is that we’re pretty damn furious at the moment.

We are angry at all the perverts and abusers and misogynistic morons who make our life tough. And right now, we’re hitting back.

So what better time for a film that puts all that rage into a razor-sharp black comedy.

From the mind of British writer and director Emerald Fennell, this is the story of Cassie — played outstandingly by Carey Mulligan — who has given up on medical school to work in a cafe and spend her evenings pretending to be drunk to draw in sexual predators.

It appears she is on a one-woman mission to stop sexual violence, as well as get revenge on the people responsible for ruining her best friend’s life.

We meet Cassie as she is about to turn 30 and has a steely determination to expose bad men.

Interestingly, these bad men are, in fact, the “nice guys”. These are the self-styled gentlemen — the ones who claim to be so concerned for a woman’s intoxication they step up to take her home.

Or who say they don’t like make-up on a woman so they can see their “natural beauty” and “cute freckles”.

It’s the clean-shaven “good guys” who have decent jobs, nice homes and sleep well at night — despite their behaviour.

They are the ones on Cassie’s list. They’re the ones she shines a spot-light on just before they can play out their non-consensual fantasies — and she gives them a reality check they will never forget.

This makes for a film of breathtakingly beautiful revenge for many women and it’s all played out in pitch-black humour.

But Cassie is not a classic scorned woman character like Charles Dickens’ Miss Havisham or Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction.

She is layered — and soon her veil slips to show she feels love and longing like the rest of us, making her both empathetic and a modern heroine.

While the sumptuous styling and bubblegum colours, poptastic soundtrack and laugh-out-loud one-liners make this film pleasing to both eye and ear, it has a haunting quality and a moral to the story that is hard to shake.

Fennell’s debut has been released during a cultural movement, but that doesn’t take away from it being a spectacular moment in moviemaking.

  • On Sky Cinema and NOW TV

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The Year The Earth Changed

(PG) 48mins

★★★★☆

WHEN Covid-19 took hold, it put a pause on life as we know it – not just for humans but also for the wildlife we share our planet with.

In this beautiful feature documentary, with exclusive footage from around the globe, narrator Sir David Attenborough guides us through some of the unexpected positives for nature which have arisen out of recent changes in human behaviour.

Working through months of international lockdowns, we criss-cross continents to see how shutting beaches, reducing shipping traffic and closing tourist attractions during the pandemic has induced profound changes for the animals who occupy these habitats.

With no cruise liners on the water, Alaskan hump-back whales once again chatter freely, and no sun-bathers mean sea-turtles lay eggs in the sand without threat.

Penguins waddle streets comically in South Africa and a hippo pops into a petrol station.

Standout shots include before-and-after vistas as smog lifts and pollution falls, and the moment a usually nocturnal leopard sashays into a closed safari lodge in daylight.

Deeply thought-provoking, the film clearly contemplates how we might co-exist more harmoniously with wildlife in the future.

  • On Apple TV

The Reckoning

(15) 111mins

★☆☆☆☆

IT’S 1665, the Great Plague sweeps England, and young mother Grace (Charlotte Kirk) loses farmer husband Joseph (Joe Anderson) to the disease.

Left penniless, she rejects the advances of lecherous feudal landlord Pendleton (Steve Waddington) in lieu of rent, and when he gets forceful she fights back.

Angry Pendleton accuses the beautiful widow of witch-craft and summons “witch-hunter” Judge Moorcraft (Sean Pertwee), ordering him to extract a confession.

Director Neil Marshall then employs melodramatic torture scenes as innocent Grace is lashed, prodded and violated but refuses to capitulate.

The idea of a medieval #MeToo story, examining how powerful men have used witchcraft claims to control women throughout history, is interesting.

So it’s a shame this is a let-down.

The script flips from 17thCentury “squire” talk to 21st Century chat as yokels greet others as “mate” and discuss if someone “fancies you”.

Histrionics are over-baked and some costumes and sets are inadvertently comical.

Extras look like they’re in fancy dress as Baldrick from Blackadder, and Grace remains perfectly made up while impaled on a breaking wheel.

Less terror, more terrible.

  • Streaming on digital platforms

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