Emerald Fennell, like many women in their 30s, 40s and beyond, grew up in a world where consent was a punchline.
The drunk girl at the party was a joke. Conversations about what actually happened the night before were lighthearted, a bit of banter. Women navigated the world with a kind of gallows humour, an armour they'd built up over time to protect themselves from the inherent risk and consequences that come with being a woman in the world.
This was just normal for Fennell. It was normal for many of us.
Watch the trailer for Promising Young Woman. Post continues below.
Then, Fennell had a conversation with a group of friends over dinner. A female friend was telling the group about a creepy man she had encountered on the train on her way to dinner. The men were shocked. The women not so much.
The women then went around the table, sharing their own stories. The men's increasing shock was palpable.
It was during this conversation that Fennell realised this was her female friends' reality and that her male friends lived in a radically different reality.
In their world, things were great. Consent wasn't an issue. There were good guys and bad guys. There were no blurred lines.
“They were just staggered,” Fennell told Carina Chocano at the New York Times. “And these were just the milder things.”
That's when she came up with the idea for Promising Young Woman.
The film follows 30-year-old Cassie (Carey Mulligan), a medical school dropout who lives with her parents and works as a barista. Making coffee is how she pays the bills, but Cassie's singular purpose in life is to hold up a mirror to the supposed "good guys" and show them who they really are.