After a period of curious silence, Variety critic Dennis Harvey has finally spoken out about Carey Mulligan’s objection to a portion of Harvey’s 1.26.20 review of Promising Young Woman, which many have interpreted as a disparagement of Mulligan’s attractiveness.
Variety‘x mea culpa: “Variety sincerely apologizes to Carey Mulligan and regrets the insensitive language and insinuation in our review of Promising Young Woman that minimized her daring performance.”
Variety‘s apology didn’t appear until Mulligan complained to the N.Y. Times‘ Kyle Buchanan in a 12.23.20 profile.
Carey Mulligan in Promising Young Woman.
“I did not say or even mean to imply Mulligan is ‘not hot enough’ for the role,” Harvey has told Shoard. “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.”
Harvey added that he has been “appalled to be tarred as misogynist, which is something very alien to my personal beliefs or politics. This whole thing could not be more horrifying to me than if someone had claimed I was a gung-ho Trump supporter.”
Harvey said “he avoided the social media discourse triggered by the fallout on the advice of Variety, who said it would “blow over”, and friends who said nobody commenting appeared to have read the review and that some people had said “I must be advocating rape, was probably a predator like the men in the film.” Good God! There’s no terror like that of the Khmer Rouge. They’ve made plastic suffocation bags fashionable again.
Harvey has also questioned the timing of the controversy, as Hollywood Elsewhere has two or three times. He’s noted that his review “had apparently been found unobjectionable enough to escape complaint for 11 months, “until the film was finally being released, promoted and Oscar-campaigned”. Only then [was] his review was “belatedly labelled ‘insensitive’ and flagged with an official ‘apology’”.
Variety’s editors “had not raised any concerns with the review when he first filed it,” Harvey tells Shoard, “nor in subsequent months until [Buchanan’s New York Times article [appeared].”
Harvey’s professional fate “remains uncertain,” Shoard writes. Harvey: “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.”