BAXTER — The tagline for the new release “Promising Young Woman” is “Revenge never looked so promising.”

Argue with that at your own peril because the revenge thriller playing at the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter (and available at home with streaming on demand) is a killer movie — pun intended.

Carey Mulligan stars in the timely #MeToo drama about criminal sexual assault that was released theatrically Christmas Day that is getting her some of the best reviews of her career.

RELATED: Now showing at Lakes 12 Theatre

The Oscar nominee plays Cassie Thomas, a 30-year-old who lives with her parents and works a dead-end job at a coffee shop after dropping out of medical school, who apparently appears aimless.

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Thomas spends her nights frequenting clubs and bars, on the prowl for young men eager and willing to take advantage of her seemingly intoxicated state.

The British actress hides all hint of an accent as Thomas confronts her would-be rapists as they are just about to commit sexual assault and battery, and turns the tables on the predators.

RELATED: Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter offers private movie screenings

The “nice guys” she meets at bars employ various tactics, rationalize their behavior as “harmless fun” or blame her for their own actions against the apparently helpless.

A former classmate of hers accidentally stops by the coffee shop and recognizes the once-promising medical student who dropped off everybody’s radar for inexplicable reasons at first.

Bo Burnham plays Ryan Cooper, the unrelenting classmate who expresses a romantic interest in Thomas and who is also puzzled as to why Thomas gave up on her dreams of becoming a doctor.

RELATED: Review: ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ part of Lakes 12 Theatre reopening

Cooper pursues a relationship with Thomas even though she is initially unable to move forward with the doctor on his path for potential happiness because she is unable to let go of her traumatic past.

Thomas keeps a notebook of the lascivious men she comes into contact with and her grand masterplan for revenge kicks into high gear once upon coming across Cooper and his “bros.”

Written, produced and directed by Emerald Fennell in her feature directorial debut, and produced by actress Margot Robbie, the dark comedy gets very dark in the third act of the R-rated film.

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"Who needs brains? They ain’t never did a girl any good."

— Cassie Thomas, "Promising Young Woman"


The motion picture highlights or alludes to systemic failures of the collegiate system and the legal system, drawing upon real-life instances such as the case of former Stanford student Brock Turner.

(Turner was convicted of sexual assault and intent to rape but served three months in jail. He was often referred to in the media as a “promising young man” whose life was ruined, not his victim’s.)

In one scene where Thomas confronts a cavalier dean at her former medical school, the college administrator, a woman, feigns ignorance at the rape case that traumatizes Thomas years earlier.

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The dean played by Connie Britton expresses her concern to Thomas of what the sexual allegations by a woman might have done to a young man’s medical career who now is an esteemed physician.

“Who needs brains? They ain’t never did a girl any good,” Thomas tartly retorts.

Fennell is the executive producer of “Killing Eve,” the British television starring Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer, but her motion picture debut as writer-director of “Promising Young Woman” has earned an impressive 91% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, a movie ratings aggregation site.

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The ending of “Promising Young Woman” is surprising, shocking and arguably heartbreaking — one audiences are almost sure never to see coming, just like Britney Spears’ “Toxic” on the soundtrack.

Fennell does with “Promising Young Woman” what “Fatal Attraction” — a 1987 American psychological thriller film about marital infidelity directed by Adrian Lyne, and starring Michael Douglas and Glenn Close — did for sparking watercooler discussions, this time about #MeToo.

“It’s every guy’s worst nightmare getting accused like that,” says Dr. Alexander Monroe, Thomas’ former classmate in medical school in “Promising Young Woman,” about being an accused rapist.

Thomas replies, “Can you guess what every woman’s worst nightmare is?”

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at frank.lee@brainerddispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bdfilmforum.