I can’t remember a single scene in any of those films that made me think -“Now, hold on a second.” However, Promising young woman, has several scenes that just don’t ring true and thus impact the directing.
It seems inconceivable to the director Emerald Fennell that people can walk and talk at the same time. In the scene with Mrs. Fisher, the characters do either one or the other. Mrs. Fisher gets up, says her line and then closes the door. Other questions related to the directing arises - Why would Mrs. Fisher not invite Cassandra inside, since she was her daughter’s best friend? And second, would she just leave her sitting on the stairs? While the visual motive of showing people on the precipice is endearing there are other ways to portray it inside the house.
Second - the scenes with the flamboyant male character that is about to take advantage of Cassandra in his apartment. Seeing that he is being duped and his female conquest is not drunk at all, he freaks out and portrays such cowardly behavior that it is inconceivable. Let’s not forget that he is in his house, why doesn’t he just open the door and say “Leave.” Then Cassandra could refuse to do so and they can have the scripted conversation. Instead he nervously passes around his apartment like a caged animal. While the metaphor might be appropriate, his demeanor proves the contrary. The direction in this scene makes it hard to believe that the male character can actually convince a girl to go to his place let alone have sex with her. I'm sorry I did not catch the character's name, but that is not important because all males are portrayed in a stereotypical fashion and as such do not exhibit any noticeable differences.
Last, let’s address the blaring one - The truck smashing scene. I don’t believe it for a second that an American man will sit in his driver’s seat while a woman smashes his tail lights, and windshield ext. I use the ‘man’ and ‘woman’ on purpose. As the movie shows men are prone to take advantage of women, if the woman is perceived as weak. This is obviously not the case here, because Cassandra is holding a tire iron. To follow the pattern of male behavior shown in the film, the truck driver should have exhibit the same cowardly behavior that all the males in the movie show. And it does - he drives away. But not until his truck is completely damaged. While that makes a visual impact, storytelling-wise it's not believable.
The second option the truck driver had, was to just open the door and confront her. I have to say, this is more believable as an action from an American male than the aforementioned choice. Even though that would make for a dramatic scene, it would contradict the point of the director - males are taking advantage of females and if confronted men just skedaddle, like the cowards that they are. But on the other hand, doesn’t pigeonholing all male characters into a stereotypical mentality show the same mentality that you’re rebelling against?
These are just a few of the directing mistakes that make for a forced and staged reality; a signature for a first time director. Regardless of them, I applaud the subject of the movie and I support the making of more movies depicting such a behavior.
I would further like to stress that this review is talking explicitly about the art of directing a motion picture, not commenting on subject matter of the movie. As such, the Best director nomination seems undeserved. But what do I know - Orson Welles did not win the Oscar for Best Director either. This confirms that society rewards the attractive at the moment, but lacks the perception of seeing what’s valuable on the long run.
1 / 5
Director: Emerald Fennell
Starring: Carey Mulligan