Variety film critic Dennis Harvey says he was "appalled to be tarred as misogynist" over his controversial review of Promising Young Woman, which has led to calls for his firing. Star Carey Mulligan, who plays a woman who pretends to be drunk in order to expose predatory men, says lines like "Cassie wears her pickup-bait gear like bad drag" seemed to be saying she "wasn't hot enough to pull off this kind of ruse." Harvey says that wasn't what he meant at all. "I did not say or even mean to imply Mulligan is 'not hot enough' for the role," Harvey tells the Guardian. "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 says being labeled a misogynist is as "horrifying" as it would be if "someone had claimed I was a gung-ho Trump supporter."
Harvey says he was writing about the emphasis the film and Mulligan's performance put on "disguise, role-playing, and deliberate narrative misdirection" and it was "quite a leap" for Mulligan to see it as a suggestion that she "wasn't hot enough." "I assumed that film-makers who created such a complex, layered movie wouldn't interpret what I wrote as some kind of simpleminded sexism," says Harvey. At Variety, the review, first published a year ago, is still up, but with an apology from the editor for the "insensitive language and insinuation." Harvey says he doesn't know if he has a future at the publication. "It's left in question whether after 30 years of writing for Variety I will now be sacked because of review content no one found offensive until it became fodder for a viral trend piece," he says. (Read more Carey Mulligan stories.)