Meewella | Critic

According to P

Tag: Alison Brie

QuickView: Somebody I Used To Know (2023)

“It’s like you build your whole life around this one thing, and then what if it was the wrong thing?”


A husband-and-wife project written by Alison Brie and Dave Franco, directed by Franco and starring Brie, Somebody I Used to Know makes a pretty awful early impression before clawing its way back to mediocrity. Ostensibly a romantic comedy, the script is shamelessly derivative in its story of a woman rekindling an old relationship with a man about to get married and setting out to sabotage the wedding, but it at least has the self-awareness to name check My Best Friend’s Wedding directly. Tonally incoherent, large swathes of the film are heavy drama interrupted by crude, often gross-out humour. Its finest moments satirise the state of reality TV produced by a creatively bankrupt Hollywood system, but those sequences feel disjointed from the narrative. The acting is the highlight, particularly Haley Joel Osment clearly enjoying himself, and Brie’s amiable chemistry with fellow Community alum Danny Pudi (standing in for Rupert Everett’s disapproving George). Whilst the narrative is tritely predictable, lacking a sense of authenticity, there is a resonating truth in the title’s reference less to the leads’ former relationship but more that fiancée Cassidy reminds Ally of whom she used to be. Also worthy of comment is the film’s unusual use of occasional nudity to denote Ally’s (lost) sense of freedom rather than for titillation. There are elements that work on their own merits then, but the laughs are limited and it’s a lesser, messier take on a film I used to know.


QuickView: Promising Young Woman (2020)

“Look how easy that was. I guess you just had to think about it in the right way.”


A bold and unpredictable female revenge thriller, stripped of the male gaze that typifies the genre, Promising Young Woman is an arresting directorial debut from Emerald Fennell. Carey Mulligan’s performance is enthralling, turning on a dime between vulnerable and predatory, but revealing greater emotional depth through her relationships with her parents, her boss and a potential new love interest. The juxtaposition of these softer scenes provides tonal shifts that are uncomfortable without feeling exploitative, since they are about the character’s different headspaces rather than simply a visual cut between sex and violence (indeed, for all the darkness of its subject matter, there is little of either on screen). Cassandra’s strength is her dauntlessness rather than aggression, leading to some wonderfully feminist wish-fulfilment sequences like silently staring down a group of catcalling builders until their bravado falters. The tonal disconnect is heightened through a soundtrack of female-fronted pop, culminating in an instrumental strings cover of Britney Spear’s Toxic that drips with menace. It is the combination of these aspects that makes Promising Young Woman feel so fresh in cinema, a continuation of television experiments like Killing Eve (on which Fennell was a writer). Using this remarkable concoction to make sharp points about rape culture, the prioritisation of men’s reputations, guilt, complicity and historic transgressions, makes this an important — as well as impressive — achievement.


"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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