The Tone-Deaf Review Heard ‘Round the World

That Critic Sure Looks Promising Now

I'm sure you've all heard by now that Promising Young Woman is making serious waves in several significant ways. Whether or not the film is divisive, that's not the point. The point is, the film is stirring up a lot of conversation around it, and that's exactly what Emerald Fennell set out to do. However, one Variety review missed the point entirely. This particular review stated that Carey Mulligan "wasn't hot enough" to pull off the revenge plot within the film. Reviews like this are pretty much exactly why the film was even made in the first place. One does not enter the movie theater (or your couch) and leave thinking, "man, if only Carey Mulligan was hotter, I would have believed every second of it." This review completely missed the mark and is now under heavy fire for it - and rightfully so.

The Review

Now, I should probably lead off by saying that Variety has since apologized to Carey Mulligan and condemns the content of that review. On the other hand, we all know that means nothing because the guy still wrote the damned thing and he didn't understand the point of the film. Not to mention, Variety is just doing what they're supposed to be doing by covering their own ass. However, it is possible that this review didn't reflect the views or opinions of Variety as a whole? It's important to remember, they DID publish the review and did not take it down. In any case, Dennis Harvey's review states that essentially Carey Mulligan was not meant for this role and that Margot Robbie "perhaps too easily" can be imagined in the role instead. It's comments like this that lead Fennell to write and direct films about this. So, thanks for that Dennis. Thanks for making us men look even worse. There is a special sort of irony in the fact that his last name is Harvey, too. Anyway,  watching this film would never and should never garner this sort of response. It diminishes the art form and the reputation critics simultaneously in the process.

The Backlash

Ironically enough, Carey Mulligan caught wind of the review and as you can imagine she simply could not believe that in 2020 someone could write something so moronic, obtuse, and transparent as that. By the way, just so we're clear, I said moronic and obtuse, not Carey Mulligan; she's far too nice for that. Anyway, the backlash was fierce concerning this incredibly tone deaf review. Mulligan was absolutely flabbergasted that she wasn't "hot enough" to pull off this kind of a ruse as Cassie in the film. She went on to say that obviously anyone with eyes can see that Margot Robbie is dashingly beautiful and would clearly murder that role, but to say that Carey Mulligan isn't attractive enough? Hello?! Have you seen her, Dennis? To quote a line of dialogue by Mulligan in the film, "I'm sure you're not dropping panties yourself, [Dennis]!" Jokes aside, the fact that Margot Robbie is a goddess is not the point. Nor is Carey Mulligan being beautiful the point, either. The point is, and Mulligan even states this in her criticism of the review, it's that we need to normalize women looking "normal." Not everything has to be about a supermodel seducing men and luring them into their cunning plots and schemes. Mulligan wishes for a world where we can just bask in the realness of women and that they can be beautiful by being imperfect. In short, Mr. Harvey can stick that in his pipe and smoke it.

The Fallout

To reiterate, Variety did post an editor's note to anyone who reads the review. It apologizes to Carey Mulligan about "any insensitive language which might diminish Carey Mulligan's daring performance" and regrets any insinuation that it might minimize her courage in that performance. I am sure Mr. Harvey will go on to write some perfectly fine reviews in the not-so-distant future, or perhaps he might not learn his lesson. Only time will tell in that regard. And clearly Variety had the wherewithal to see what damage was done and made strides to repair that damage and their relationship with Mulligan, if there ever was one to begin with. I'm almost certain Variety had a nice little chat with Dennis afterwards as well. Perhaps a trip to HR was in order? Who's to say? In any case, I'm sure Variety will recover as not many people have heard about this particular review, nor have they even heard of this movie. As for the notorious film critic, who knows what the future holds for him?


As for the film itself, if my review wasn't enough to shift your attention, perhaps this will!


Promising Young Woman is now playing where theaters are open and is available on Premium Video on Demand.

Rob McNeil

My name is Rob McNeil. I was born and raised in Normal, Illinois and I am a 28 year-old award winning screenwriter. I am very passionate about film, so much that I watch far too many films on a daily basis. I have written fifteen feature screenplays, a spec pilot thriller series, and several short scripts. I aim to make filmmaking a career, but for now, I will write about it.

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