YOUNG PROMISING WOMAN: 4 STARS
It would be easy to suggest that âPromising Young Woman,â a new drama starring Carey Mulligan, is simply âFalling Downâ for the #MeToo era, but it’s so much more than that. There are elements of it, but it’s also a bold look at rape culture and male privilege that weaves dark humor and revenge into the ragged fabric of its history.
It’s hard to talk about a “promising young woman” without being a spoiler, but here it is: Mulligan is Cassandra, a thirty-something who has dropped out of medical school. She lives at home with her parents (Clancy Brown and Jennifer Coolidge), works in a cafe with her best and only friend, Gail (Laverene Cox).
âIf I wanted a home, a career, a yoga class, and a boyfriend that my mom could brag about, I would,â she says. “In ten minutes. But I don’t want it.”
At night, she hits the clubs, pretending to be drunk, waiting for the men to approach her. Just when they think she’s the most vulnerable, she “comes back”. “What is that?” says one of the “nice people” who tries to take advantage of her. “Are you some kind of psychopath?” I thought you wereâ¦ ââ Drunk? she said as she finished her sentence.
At home, she has a notebook, filled with a list of the men she has met and several names in reserve for a “judgment day.”
There’s more, but one of the pleasures of “Promising Young Woman” is her ability to surprise and shock with the twists and turns of the story. There is a lot at stake here. The action here is fueled by Cassie’s trauma, but writer-director Emerald Fennell keeps the action quirky with the introduction of dark satire, revenge, an exploration of toxic masculinity, and even romantic comedy scenes. . The culmination of all these disparate components is a film with an odd tone, but a clear point of view. It’s social commentary as an art and it works.
Mulligan appears in virtually every picture, navigating the story’s left turns and holding his center no matter what is thrown at him. The sense of loss that drives her is ever present – she even wears a broken heart pendant – even when she’s in control, her eyes steel and ready to scold.
âPromising Young Womanâ is structurally rough around the edges at times, but despite its flaws, it is compelling and surprising.
WOMAN PIECE: 4 STARS
âPieces of a Woman,â now streaming on Netflix, begins with the happy, loving couple Martha (Vanessa Kirby) and Shawn (Shia LaBeouf) on what should be one of the happiest days of their lives. In the scene, mainly shot in long shots, Martha is in labor, a few minutes before the birth of their daughter. Their midwife being indisposed, a replacement named Eva (Molly Parker), unfamiliar with their case, is sent in her place. At the end of the twenty-five minute pre-credit streak, tragedy struck and their lives changed forever.
Director Kornel Mundruczo sets the bar very high in the opening moments of the film. It’s a fascinating film, intimately showing the anticipation, pain and angst of Martha and Shawn in real time. Most of the movie deals with the aftermath as the couple are separated by grief and recriminations and it’s very loud, but the tone is colder than the opening.
Interestingly, âPiece of a Womanâ was originally designed as sketches of Kata Weber characters intended for the stage. We feel the attention to detail that has been lavished on each of the characters. They are richly drawn and carefully portrayed by the actors.
A trio of performances tells the story.
Kirby, better known as Princess Anne in “The Crown,” digs deep to create a portrait of someone devastated by the loss of their child; someone whose world stopped turning that day. As she seeks closure, there is an intensity that comes from her rage and grief manifesting as grief. It’s layered, emotionally draining, and worthy of a prize work.
LaBeouf plays Shawn as an attention-hungry husband. A man who tries to move forward by forcing his attentions on Martha and, when that doesn’t work, he looks away. LaBeouf is a cauldron bubbling with frustration, about to boil over.
As the mother of Martha, an imperious woman bent on blame, Ellen Burstyn delivers a tour de force monologue on how mothers raise their daughters, which could be a short film on its own.
“Pieces of a Woman” is not an easy watch. The performances are raw, real, and uncomfortable that exhaust and exhilarate in equal measure.
THE DISSIDENT: 4 STARS
“The Dissident”, now available on VOD / Digital, is a detailed documentary that plays out like a thriller about the October 2018 murder of Washington Post journalist and political commentator Jamal Khashoggi.
With more than two million followers on Twitter, Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident, author and columnist for the Washington Post, was the most famous political expert in the Arab world. A fierce critic of Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Khashoggi lived in exile and, in October 2018, entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to file documents related to his upcoming marriage.
He never left the building.
We now know that he was killed and dismembered with bone saws in the consulate, but it took two weeks and hundreds of headlines before forensic evidence revealed the brutal murder and a cover-up suggesting that Mohammed bin Salman ordered the grisly massacre of Khashoggi.
Director Bryan Fogel goes behind the headlines, meticulously sorting through news and misinformation to provide a chilling context for the tragic events surrounding Khashoggi’s assassination. Using talking heads interviews with the friends and colleagues of the deceased journalist, sleek graphics and even animation, he gives the film a forward momentum that dismantles a global cover-up and results in a disturbing account of the murder by an expert. forensic who coldly reads a transcript. made from recordings of the event. This is worrying to say the least, especially the clinical presentation.
The hard-hitting “The Dissident” doesn’t mince words. It sometimes sounds like a story that could have come straight from the pen of Frederick Forsyth or John le CarrÃ©, but examining the machinations of Khashoggi’s death, it also paints a picture of her values ââand her love for her country. It is an urgent cinema which unequivocally points the finger at the guilt of ben Salman and questions aloud the fate of those who wish to express themselves in the face of the repression of freedom of expression. There isn’t a lot of new information here, just expertly presented facts.