Critics at a Crossroads: How a ‘Promising Young Woman’ Review Got Caught in the Culture Wars

Brian Welk
·1-min read

Film critics found themselves at a crossroads this week trying to defend one of their own while also acknowledging that a review of Carey Mulligan’s performance in “Promising Young Woman” in Variety may have crossed a line. What started as a conversation among critics on Film Twitter escalated to the mainstream on Tuesday when the National Society of Film Critics called on Variety to remove an editor’s note apologizing for its review of “Promising Young Woman” by freelance critic Dennis Harvey. The group argued that the publication had thrown its own writer under the bus rather than defend his right to his opinion, calling it “appalling” that Variety chose to “side with that power rather than supporting its writer.” But just as there’s no obvious consensus on any one movie, other film critics posting on Twitter and who spoke with TheWrap said the NSFC’s statement missed the mark and overlooked some of the review’s real flaws that many online, including other critics themselves, called misogynistic and sexist. Suddenly no party looks great in a messy back-and-forth that begs the question for both writers and publications alike: How do you continue to write good criticism while also reassessing the media’s role in...

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