Promising Young Woman
Promising Young Woman (2020) movie review
Promising Young Woman stars Carey Mulligan as Cassandra, a woman seeking revenge for a traumatic event from her past. The drama/thriller from writer/director Emerald Fennell takes a look at the consequences of one’s actions, as well as being consumed by vengeance. The film premiered this past weekend to generally strong reviews from critics, as well as a warm audience reception so far.
Now you are probably wondering why this isn’t a Wonder Woman 1984 review. Or Soul. Or News of the World. Well a few reasons actually. First of all, we saw this first. Second, it’s fantastic! Third, I want everyone to know it’s good enough to see first. Now if you aren’t sold on this one, check out the trailer first. Promising Young Woman is compelling, tense, funny, and immensely satisfying, as is brilliantly captures the spirit of the #metoo era without ever feeling unjustly feminist. If that’s not enough big monsters and explosions for you, well I still think you are missing out actually.
Now as far as Oscars go, Carey Mulligan carries this film. She disappears into this broken character who sees very little purpose for her life other than to be a splash of cold water to awful men. However the film goes further than that, as she ends up finding someone she genuinely likes. The conflict that comes with this need for her to grow as a character is captivating, and perfectly realized by a powerhouse performance from Mulligan. The supporting cast also does a very good job, with Bo Burnham delivering a performance almost as compelling.
Now as I did just talk character arcs, I was really into the writing! Fennell’s ability to evoke themes works on a surprisingly real level, despite some strange choices early on the film. Some of the direction, pacing, and editing early on feel conflictedly showy, evening out after the first ten or so minutes. And while there are one or two convenient moments, the rest of the film is a roller coaster of conflict and comedy, as two very different lifestyle choices begin to collide within one individual. However by the end Promising Young Woman reveals itself to be the thriller it was hiding underneath, keeping the audience drawn in to some rather bold story beats.
While Anthony Willis’ score was strong, some of the music choices were- let’s start with questionable. Every song in the film feels painfully on-the-nose, and I think it’s a horribly beautiful choice. From the first shot, the film asserts itself as the cold light of day after the heated party that is 2000s cinema. So while the story takes a mature approach to its themes, the music choices are so in your face that it hurts. And that is absolutely the point. I cringed at the opening shot, and it retrospectively had me thinking back to every Fast & Furious film that thought objectification was cool.
So while Promising Young Woman isn’t exactly a fair film, I don’t think it needs to be! Thanks to a carefully crafted story and strong character arc, the story is almost painted black and white by the end. And while it takes a few shortcuts to build to the finale, the assortment of tones throughout result by keeping you on the edge of your seat. Anchor that with an astounding performance from Carey Mulligan and yeah, this was one of my favorite films of 2020. Go check it out! It’s not too artistic, but not too typical! 8/10.
So Promising Young Woman? Have you seen it? What did you think? And what is your favorite revenge drama? Be sure to leave a like or a comment below and let us know! And do keep an eye out for those other reviews I mentioned earlier, cause they are coming soon!
-review by Ryan Prince