[Review] How “Promising Young Woman” Challenges Our Views on Revenge (Director Emerald Fennell)

I wrote this article in Japanese and translated it into English using ChatGPT. I also used ChatGPT to create the English article title. I did my best to correct any translation mistakes, but please let me know if you find any errors. By the way, I did not use ChatGPT when writing the Japanese article. The entire article was written from scratch by me, Saikawa Goto.



Movies and books covered in this article

(Click This Image to Go Directly to the Amazon Prime Video Movie “Promising Young Woman”: Image from Amazon.com)

I will write an article about this movie/book

What I want to convey in this article

There may be things that can only be achieved through “revenge”.

Saikawa Goto

I feel that Cassie’s actions are exactly that.

Three takeaways from this article

  1. I generally think that revenge is meaningless, but I think there can be “meaningful revenge”.
  2. Is it justice to condemn “past mistakes” by “current standards”?
  3. The development that makes me feel that “Cassie’s madness” may be “right” is excellent.
Saikawa Goto

The story is interesting, but it is also a wonderful work that makes a poignant problem statement.

Self-introduction article


Please refer to the self-introduction article above to learn about the person writing this article. Be sure to check out the Kindle book linked below as well.

Published Kindle books(Free on Kindle Unlimited)

“The genius Einstein: An easy-to-understand book about interesting science advances that is not too simple based on his life and discoveries: Theory of Relativity, Cosmology and Quantum Theory”

“Why is “lack of imagination” called “communication skills”?: Japanese-specific”negative” communication”

The quotes used in this article are based on notes taken at the movie theater from movies in Japanese and are not direct quotes from the foreign language original movies, even if they exist.

Reflecting on the “Righteousness of Revenge” from the Portrayal of a Woman Taking an Abnormal, Law-Breaking Action

Although it was not originally on my list of movies to watch, I felt the buzz around it and decided to give it a go. It was a film that was completely different from what I had imagined, but it was a work that encapsulated heavy themes while being poppy, and sharply questioned the audience.


The female protagonist is seriously messed up, isn’t she?

Saikawa Goto

She maintains that craziness right up to the end, which is why I thought it was a movie that really keeps the tension going.

The Role of “Revealing a Problem” that Revenge Has

I generally feel that revenge is meaningless and unacceptable. I can understand the feeling of having “a desire for revenge”. However, in most cases, revenge only makes things worse, and emotionally, I feel that I should not get involved in such revenge. Of course, I understand that I can say this because I have never been an “unfair victim” myself. If I were to suffer a serious harm that would make it difficult for me to forgive the other person, I don’t know if I could control my desire for revenge. Nevertheless at least for now, I believe that “revenge is meaningless”.

However, there is one important premise to this way of thinking. It is whether “the problem is widely known”. I believe that “if the problem that led to the desire for revenge is known in some form to a certain number of people other than myself, then revenge should not be taken”.

In other words, I think it might be okay to seek revenge if the goal is to make the problem widely known.

Saikawa Goto

Personally, I think it’s important whether or not it’s known in my surrounding world.


It feels like “trying to widely publicize it” may be a bit too much.

Let’s say your loved one has passed away and the “reason for their death” is correctly understood by those around you. If it is a situation there is a hateful existence, you may develop a “desire for revenge,” but since there is no purpose of “spreading the problem,” I feel that taking the means of “revenge” is not worth it based on my sense.

On the other hand, if the “reason for their death” is not correctly understood and you are the only one who knows the fact, then it is somewhat acceptable to take “revenge” to effectively expose that fact to the public.

If the “truth about death” is something that would be easily dismissed if told to someone normally, then no one would believe it no matter how much you appeal to them that “this is the truth”. In that case, by performing “revenge” at the cost of one’s own life and position, there is a possibility that the message may come across as “one is taking such drastic actions, so what one is saying must be true”.

While watching a movie, I was thinking that if someone has a clear purpose like this, their “revenge” may not be completely deniable.


The main premise is that “we should not seek revenge,” but you know.

Saikawa Goto

It might sound idealistic, but if possible, I would like to stop the “chain of revenge” at my own place.

About the Condemnation of “Past Mistakes” in the Present

While watching the movie, I was also thinking about the issue of whether it is right or wrong for “distant past events” to be condemned in the “present”.

I watched this movie during the middle of the Tokyo Olympics. It’s still fresh in our memories how the “domino effect” of people involved in the opening ceremony being denounced and forced to resign due to their past statements happened one after another (in Japan, there were a series of scandals where artists involved in the Olympics’ opening ceremony were forced to resign due to their past statements).

Although I didn’t closely follow the reactions on the internet at that time, among the various opinions that were expressed, there was a point made that questioning “is it right to judge past mistakes by today’s standards?” In other words, it’s a perspective that asks, “is it right to judge actions from some time ago, when compliance was not as strict, by today’s stricter compliance standards?”

From the commotion at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics and my experience watching “Promising Young Woman,” I came to the conclusion that there are two criteria that, “when met simultaneously, would make it understandable for someone to be condemned”. These two criteria are:

  • The existence of “direct victims.”
  • That the victim has not forgiven the perpetrator or it can be strongly presumed that they have not forgiven them.

These criteria do not apply only to “past mistakes,” but if both points are met, I think that I cannot help but to condemn someone by a “past mistake”.

Saikawa Goto

I think that the case of the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony falls under these two criteria, so it’s not surprising that it’s being criticized.


But it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth to see people who are not “direct victims” saying so many things.

“Direct victims” refer to spouses in cases of infidelity and those who are directly hurt by discriminatory remarks. We see various incidents blow up and people get bashed, but I often feel like saying, “You’re not a direct victim, so stay silent.” I dislike seeing people unrelated to the target of discriminatory remarks get angry and say, “That’s so insensitive.”

Anyway, I believe that first of all, there must be “direct victims.”

And it is important that those “direct victims” have not forgiven the perpetrator. For example, in cases like infidelity, criticism may continue even if the wife makes comments forgiving her husband, but I don’t understand the point of that. Of course, there may be cases where “direct victims” cannot express their feelings. That’s why I included the condition of “strongly presumed.”

In this way, even if it is a mistake from a long time ago, I think that if the above two conditions are met, it is inevitable that the mistake will be criticized.

I Want to Tolerate the Actions of the Main Character Cassie

So here goes, regarding the “Rightness of Revenge” and “Standards of Condemnation,” I wanted to write about how I perceive the actions of the protagonist Cassie in this movie. And based on what I’ve touched upon so far, I want to justify Cassie’s actions.

Normally, such behavior is not tolerated. This is because her actions clearly violate the law and are not something that should be accepted from the perspective of “social order.” If the state or the law were to accept Cassie’s actions as “right,” society would not function. Therefore, the state and the law have no choice but to condemn her.


Cassie is really doing something crazy, so to speak.

Saikawa Goto

It’s like that saying, “If an apology is enough, there’s no need for the police (there is this epigram in Japan),” exactly.

I think it’s free for individuals to justify Cassie’s actions. And I want to argue that I can “accept her actions” after writing down my own logic. She has been “condemning the past mistakes of the perpetrators” with the purpose of “making the problem known”. Her “revenge” is quite severe, but I can somehow accept it.

Because the “perpetrators” are too cruel. I just can’t help but support Cassie.

However, it would be incorrect to perceive this movie as “Cassie seeking revenge against male perpetrators.” This is because Cassie is not seeking revenge against only specific men.

I think the title “Promising Young Woman” may also include Cassie, but it is likely referring to a certain person who is not Cassie.

However, the word “promising” would be better used to modify “men” to emphasize the main theme of the movie.

From the phrase “promising young woman,” I think the nuance of “she had so much promise ahead of her, but something bad happened to prevent that” becomes stronger. However, if you write “promising man,” you may feel the implication of “since he is promising, he shouldn’t ruin his life with a “minor” mistake.”

Saikawa Goto

I might not have the persuasive power as I am a man, but I personally feel uncomfortable with such societal trends.


But even if you say that, it might not be understood by the men around you, might it.

This movie is condemning this very point, in other word the “society itself that trivializes men’s mistakes with the word ‘promising’.” That’s why I feel that this movie is not just a simple “revenge story of a woman.”

This is evident from the fact that Cassie’s anger is not just directed towards “men,” but also towards “women.” There are a certain number of women who cooperate so that men do not ruin their lives due to “minor” mistakes just because they are “promising.” This is why Cassie’s anger is directed towards not only the “direct offenders,” but also towards others.

I felt that this movie had a very scary composition. If we condemn Cassie’s actions without thinking, which may seem tricky and crazy at first glance, the arrow will come back to us. Although criminal acts cannot be tolerated, I think that condemning her without understanding the core of Cassie’s principles could be the same as “unconsciously defending a ‘promising man’.”


So, if you think about it, there’s meaning in “portraying Cassie as thoroughly evil,” isn’t there.

Saikawa Goto

It feels like the “world reversal” when we understand Cassie’s principles becomes even more intense.

Cassie is essentially angry at the notion that “it’s just because he’s a man,” so her feelings can be considered absolutely correct. But on the other hand, Cassie is not understood by anyone, although it is inevitable because Cassie’s behavior is crazy. Cassie’s “normality” is covered by her “abnormality” and cannot be seen. In such a situation, Cassie’s “revenge on her life,” which appears to be just a dangerous person on the surface, inevitably exposes the reality that “men dominate society,” and while I, as a man, have no intention of supporting it, I can’t help but feel harshly criticized.

Content Introduction

Cassie is 30 years old and still lives with her parents. She doesn’t have a boyfriend or any friends. She dropped out of medical school for some reason and has been working at a deserted coffee shop since then. Her mother can’t hide her disappointment with the current situation of her once “promising daughter”.

Every week, Cassie pretends to be drunk at a bar and goes to a stranger’s house. Then she sobers up in their room and metes out “punishment”. For Cassie, men are just “stupid guys who think they can easily get some”. There’s no way she could have a boyfriend.

One day, a man came to her workplace. Cassie didn’t realize it, but the man was Ryan, a classmate from medical school. Ryan, who confessed that he had been in love with her since their student days, forcibly invited her on a date at the coffee shop. Cassie reluctantly agreed, and gradually developed feelings for Ryan as well.

In a conversation with Ryan, Cassie heard about the recent developments of a college acquaintance, Al Monroe, getting married.

Cassie decided on “revenge”.


It was a very interesting movie.

Anyway, from the beginning for a while, it was completely unclear what Cassie was trying to do. It is evident that she is angry at “men” in the world from pretending to be drunk every week at the bar, but the background is not visible at all, and the reason for dropping out of medical school is not understood. Anyway, there is quite a long time when you see Cassie’s crazy behavior without understanding her purpose or motivation.


It’s only in the second half that we finally understand that Cassie is trying to “avenge” something and we learn the background behind it.

Saikawa Goto

Until then, she’s just a “dangerous person”.

Therefore I wasn’t bored during that time, not at all. Cassie’s character is very charming, and the way she portrays danger in a pop way made it so I could watch it without getting tired.

Then, when the name “Al Monroe” comes up, Cassie’s “revenge” starts in earnest, but even then, the information is revealed gradually, so Cassie still looks like a “dangerous person.”

I felt like this was clearly intentional. Even after watching the movie until the end, Cassie still seems like a “dangerous person,” but as the motive for her “revenge” becomes clear bit by bit, her actions begin to feel like the “right thing.” The process of Cassie’s behavior changing from “she’s obviously crazy” to “she might be right” is quite thrilling, and it’s because of that contrast that the “outline of the target of Cassie’s anger” becomes clearer.

I won’t spoil the ending of the movie, but it’s a great story that includes a surprising twist that will make you go “Seriously?”


It’s a challenging work that centers around the theme of “revenge,” which is particularly relevant in today’s society, where “blow up” in various places. Although opinions may be divided, I really like this movie. Not only is it entertaining as a movie, but I also think it does a great job of raising important issues.

Published Kindle books(Free on Kindle Unlimited)

“The genius Einstein: An easy-to-understand book about interesting science advances that is not too simple based on his life and discoveries: Theory of Relativity, Cosmology and Quantum Theory”

“Why is “lack of imagination” called “communication skills”?: Japanese-specific”negative” communication”

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