Carey Mulligan critic hits back in Promising Young Woman review row: ‘I was appalled to be tarred as misogynist’

Mulligan this week said that the review had criticised ‘a lack of attractiveness on my part in a character’

Promising Young Woman - Trailer

Film critic Dennis Harvey has responded to Carey Mulligan’s claims that his 2020 Promising Young Woman review implied she wasn’t “hot enough” for the role.

In the Variety review, which was published last January, Harvey wrote that Mulligan was an “odd choice” to play the lead in the revenge comedy-thriller, suggested that Margot Robbie would have been a better pick.

“Mulligan, a fine actress, seems a bit of an odd choice as this admittedly many-layered apparent femme fatale — Margot Robbie is a producer here, and one can (perhaps too easily) imagine the role might once have been intended for her,” he wrote.

“Whereas with this star, Cassie wears her pickup-bait gear like bad drag; even her long blonde hair seems a put-on. The flat American accent she delivers in her lowest voice register likewise seems a bit meta, though it’s not quite clear what the quote marks around this performance signify.”

Mulligan first mentioned the review in December, when she said it suggested she wasn’t “hot enough to pull off this kind of ruse”.

Carey Mulligan in 'Promising Young Woman’

Now, speaking to The Guardian, Harvey said that he never said or meant to imply he was judging Mulligan’s attractiveness in the review and was “appalled to be tarred as misogynist”.

“I’m a 60-year-old gay man. I don’t actually go around dwelling on the comparative hotnesses of young actresses, let alone writing about that,” he told the publication. “This whole thing could not be more horrifying to me than if someone had claimed I was a gung-ho Trump supporter.”

While suggesting that the comparison to Robbie was more to highlight her experience playing similar roles, Harvey admitted that he may not have fully expressed this in the review so as not to spoil the film.

“I assumed that film-makers who created such a complex, layered movie wouldn’t interpret what I wrote as some kind of simple-minded sexism,” he said.

Access unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up

“And while Carey Mulligan is certainly entitled to interpret the review however she likes, her projection of it suggesting she’s ‘not hot enough’ is, to me, just bizarre. I’m sorry she feels that way. But I’m also sorry that’s a conclusion she would jump to, because it’s quite a leap.”

While Variety added an editor’s note to the review apologising following Mulligan’s first mention of the review, she discussed it again while taking part in Variety’s Actors on Actors series this week.

Mulligan said it was “disappointing” that the review wasn’t “constructive” and bemoaned “a lack of attractiveness on my part in a character”, adding: “It made me concerned that in such a big publication, an actress’ appearance could be criticised and that could be accepted as completely reasonable criticism.”

In Promising Young Woman, Mulligan portrays Cassie, a survivor of trauma who uses her sexuality in a series of revenge schemes.

Promising Young Woman will be released in the UK later this year.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in