Movie critics slam Variety’s apology to Carey Mulligan

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  • Carey Mulligan accused film critic Dennis Harvey of misogyny in his review of his film in Variety.
  • Variety then posted an apology to Mulligan on their website above Harvey’s criticism.
  • The National Society of Film Critics has defended Harvey demanding that Variety rescind his apology.

Since the 1970s and 1980s – the heavyweight years of Kael, Sarris and Ebert – it has been virtually unheard of for a film review to make the headlines; critics simply don’t have that kind of power anymore. But such has been the cultural force and the general interest for British writer-director Emerald Fennell. first feature film, “Young promising woman”.

The Revenge flick has been one of the most talked about films of the year since its theatrical release late last year, and it quickly became a surprise awards favorite by earning multiple nominations for through the Golden Globes, review circles and the independent circuit. .

Much of the discussion around the film, however, centered around a sticky argument between the film’s star, Carey Mulligan, and a review of the film written by veteran critic Dennis Harvey, posted in Variety, which sparked a discussion. animated around the editorial standards of Hollywood trade publications and the freedom of critics.

Critic of Dennis Harvey called Mulligan “a bit of an odd choice” for her role as a seductress in the film.

"Promising young woman"

The cast and director of “Promising Young Woman” at Sundance.

Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images


“Promising Young Woman,” which also stars Bo Burnham and Alison Brie, premiered in January 2020 at the Sundance Film Festival where it received largely positive reviews. In the film, Carey Mulligan plays Cassandra – a medical school dropout who dedicates her life to catching predatory men by pretending to be drunk in bars and clubs, then revealing her sobriety when they do. took her home.

At the festival, Harvey, a seasoned film critic, praised the film for his “compelling blend of thriller and dark comedy”, but suggested that Mulligan, whose performance he described as “skillful, entertaining and stimulating”, was, in fact, a “strange choice” for the lead role and has suggested that Australian actor Margot Robbie, who is the film’s producer, might have been better placed to play the lead role.

Her critics say, “Mulligan, a good actress, seems a bit odd choice because this apparent femme fatale on many levels – Margot Robbie is a producer here, and one can (perhaps too easily) imagine that the role could have been Once While with this star, Cassie wears her bait-collecting gear like a bad slut, even her long blonde hair seems like an accessory.

“The flat American accent she delivers in her lower vocal range also feels a bit meta, though it’s not entirely clear what the quotes mean around this performance. Yet like everything here, this trick is skillful, entertaining and stimulating, even when the eccentric method obscures the precise message. “

Focus features of a promising young woman

Carey Mulligan.

Focus Features


Carey Mulligan attacked Harvey’s criticism during New York Times profile

Almost 11 months later, while discussing the deployment of the film during a profile in the New York Times, Carey Mulligan singled out Harvey’s review of the film and disputed his findings on his casting as well as his reference to Margot Robbie, calling his comments misogynistic.

“I read the Variety review because I’m a weak person,” she told The Times. “It was like I said I wasn’t hot enough to throw that kind of trick. It drove me so crazy,” she continued. “I was like ‘Really?’ For this film, are you going to write something so transparent? Now? In 2020? ‘ I just couldn’t believe it. “

Shortly after the Times article was published, Variety updated Harvey’s review on its website with a note from the editor, who apologized to Carey Mulligan for the “insensitive language” of criticism and seemingly moved away from Harvey’s words.

The full editor’s note reads: “Variety sincerely apologizes to Carey Mulligan and regrets the callous language and innuendo in our review of ‘Promising Young Woman’ which downplayed her daring performance.”

promising young woman

Carey Mulligan in “A Promising Young Woman”.

Focus Features


Dennis Harvey said he was “appalled to be called a misogynist” and the National Society of Film Critics slammed Variety

Talking about the situation for the first time with The Guardian in January 2021Harvey said he was “appalled to be called a misogynist” and called Mulligan’s interpretation of his criticism “bizarre.”

“I didn’t say or even mean that Mulligan is ‘not sexy enough’ for the role,” he told the newspaper. “I’m a 60-year-old gay male. In fact, I don’t dwell on the comparative attractions of young actresses, let alone write about it.”

He added: “It couldn’t be more horrible to me than if someone had pretended that I was an enthusiastic supporter of Trump.”

Now, earlier this week, the National Society of Film Critics – the group that represents the nation’s top critics – published a statement on Twitter who condemned Dennis Harvey’s treatment by Variety and demanded that the post remove the apologies from his review of the film. “We, the members of the National Society of Film Critics, wish to register our alarm at Variety’s lousy treatment of our colleague Dennis Harvey,” the statement read.

If Variety thought the language of Harvey’s review to be callous and insinuating, there was an opportunity to work with him to correct this in the editing process before it was released. Variety could also have recognized and responded to critics of Mulligan, rather than just capitulate to her and undermine her own criticism in the process. “

According to the National Society of Film Critics website, Peter Debruge and Owen Gleiberman, Variety’s leading film critics, are both members of the society.

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