This film, written and directed by Emerald Fennell and starring Carey Mulligan, is so many things. All of them worth your time. It’s truly brilliant.
Carey Mulligan is Cassandra, a woman approaching thirty who’s best friend was raped in college. The friend, Nina, is dead now and it is never explicitly said that she committed suicide but it’s all over in the subtext of this story. Cassandra goes out ever Friday night pretending to be drunk so men will offer to take her home under the guise of keeping her safe. These men convince her to go to their home instead and they attempt to have intercourse with her while she is too wasted to defend herself. Then she goes after them with blunt sobriety about what they were about to do to her. Guy after guy. Friday after Friday.
One day a guy she was in medical school with shows up at the coffee shop she works in and asks her on a date. After some persistence she agrees. He is unaware of the plan she has hatched to go after those who treated Nina like her experience wasn’t rape. The dean of the college they attended. The female friend who didn’t stand up for Nina. The lawyer who defended the rapist. The guy who did the actual raping.
Soon though, Cassandra realizes that she may have a new life with this new guy, Ryan. Her revenge plot is put on hold, that is until video surfaces of Nina’s rape. It isn’t just the rapist on the video with Nina. I won’t ruin this heartbreaking moment for you. Mulligan’s performance will have you crying along with her. The revenge plot is back on and she shows up at the rapists bachelor party dressed as a stripper nurse. After luring him to an empty bedroom, her plot has come full circle.
It doesn’t go according to plan, but I won’t ruin that for you either. Watch the film. It’s worth the watch. Mulligan gives a sassy, blunt, bubble gum version of someone who wants the world to pay for what happened to her friend. She is so obsessed with it that she still lives with her parents on her thirtieth birthday. Her parents get her a suitcase as a huge get-out-and-get-a-life hint.
Cassandra puts every excuse and reason about why men get away with sexual assault to the test and smashes them apart. The most interesting thing about it, however, is that the actual rape isn’t shown to the viewer. Cassandra sees it in a video, but the viewer only sees her reaction. The film, and it’s actors, are so convincing that it isn’t needed. A film about the subject of assault from a female gaze is certainly a different experience. And an effective one.
Emerald Fennell is a force to be reckoned with. I’ve always felt the same way about Carey Mulligan. Together, they seem unstoppable. Both deserve awards for their work on this poignant film.
This is one of the best films I have seen in a very long time. I highly recommend it. You can catch it in theaters if they are open by you or on VOD sites like VUDU and iTunes.