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Every woman who sees this film will secretly cheer its antiheroine | Barbara Ellen

Promising Young Woman explores the meaning of consent and the men who ignore it

Emerald Fennell’s Bafta-winning, Oscar-nominated film Promising Young Woman is being viewed as a female revenge fantasy. But in every way that counts, it’s grimly recognisable. Cassie, played by Carey Mulligan, fakes inebriation in nightclubs to entrap predators.

Self-styled “nice guys” are shocked when she turns out to be sober and intent on avenging her friend, the incapacitated victim of a campus rape cheered by braying frat boys. Cassie’s revenge trip may be a fantasy, but the premise is realistic enough for a documentary. This is the grainy footage that plays on a loop inside the female subconscious. This is the bargaining inner dialogue of many a “party girl”: “How much fun can I have before I’m vulnerable, and before everything – even rape – becomes my fault?”

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