Promising Young Woman has been described as a rape revenge thriller. But is the hero, Cassie (Carey Milligan), seeking revenge? Or is she seeking justice?
To begin with she is not out to settle a score for harm done to her. Rather, she is settling the score for harm done to someone else. In this, the film resembles Unforgiven, the great western in which William Munny (Clint Eastwood), a bounty hunter, sets out to get justice for someone overlooked by the justice system.
Also, she is not out to demand an eye for an eye from the men who raped her friend. She does no violence, despite the near constant threats she creates. She is not out to punish the men who pick her up in bars, the medical school dean who dismissed her friend's accusation, or any of the others she hoodwinks. Instead, she wants to force them to recognize and admit what they did.
This is a film about a woman seeking justice, not revenge. This is a significant variation on the revenge thriller. And it is thrilling.
QUASI-SPOILER: Much made of having to explain the ending, but it is completely consistent with the film. In one way Cassie loses. She becomes a victim of the clueless guys who treat women as objects. In another way, she succeeds by guaranteeing their cruelty will become known and they will have to face the consequences.