Film critic Dennis Harvey has defended himself after Carey Mulligan gave a review of his what he called “bizarre” criticism.
“Mulligan, a fine actress, seems a bit of an odd choice as this admittedly many-layered apparent femme fatale,” the original Variety review of Promising Young Woman wrote, which attracted a host of criticism on social media.
Variety subsequently added an editor’s note at the top of the review, which reads: “Variety sincerely apologises to Carey Mulligan and regrets the insensitive language and insinuation in our review of Promising Young Woman that minimised her daring performance.”
Mulligan then responded to Variety’s “sexist” review and subsequent apology in a new interview with Zendaya. “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,” Mulligan told Zendaya.
“It stuck with me, because I think it’s these kind of everyday moments that add up – that mean that we start to edit the way that women appear on screen, and we want them to look a certain way,” she continued.
In response, Harvey has now shared his own thoughts on the ongoing situation. He told the Guardian: “I did not say or even mean to imply Mulligan is ‘not hot enough’ for the role. I’m a 60-year-old gay man. I don’t go around dwelling on the comparative hotnesses of young actresses, let alone writing about that”.
The critic added that he was “appalled to be tarred as misogynist”, and that he’d been labelled as “a gung-ho Trump supporter”. He went on to say that some of the criticism he received on social media was insinuating that “I must be advocating rape, [and] was probably a predator like the men in the film.”
Going on to discuss his review in more specific detail, Harvey said his criticism of Mulligan came from the perspective of the film’s focus on “disguise, role-playing and deliberate narrative misdirection,” calling Mulligan’s conclusion “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,” he added.
Promising Young Woman, directed by Emerald Fennell and co-starring Bo Burnham, will be released in UK cinemas later this year.