Trailers have become so delightfully entertaining on their own merits that they are tricking me into seeing movies I may not otherwise watch. For instance, some day next week I will sit in a theater filled with children and acid-trippers to watch an animated movie about cats with human breasts. And in April I will trudge zombielike to a local movie palace to see Promising Young Women, mostly because the clever people who made it infected my brain with a good classical strings cover of Britney Spears’s “Toxic.”
The film is directed Killing Eve showrunner Emerald Pennell. Like the TV show, this movie is also about vengeance and violent female rage. The trailer hints at a feminist lampooning of misogynist dating decorum, in which Carey Mulligan’s character systematically seduces and punishes men (the precise nature of this violence is never revealed). “Every week I go to the club,” begins Mulligan menacingly, “I act like I’m too drunk to stand, and every week a ‘nice guy’ comes over to see if I’m okay.”
She was once a promising doctor, the trailer later reveals, but left her graduate program under mysterious circumstances. Shots of Mulligan talking tough and donning a nurse’s uniform are interleaved with splashy millennial pink copy. In this context, the choice of Spears’s “Toxic” reads like a reference to “toxic masculinity,” a concept that’s grown to encompass a range of sexist actions and aggressions.
I simply must see this film, so drawn am I to the siren’s call.