Movie Review: Promising Young Woman

Movie Review: Promising Young Woman


Genre: Drama

Rating: R

Running Time: 113 mins.

Where Can You See It?: In Theaters & Premium Video on Demand (PVOD)

Premise: A med school dropout haunted by a past event seeks revenge against the men who played a part in that past event, and tries to navigate a new relationship in the process. 

Behind-the-Scenes: This is writer-director Emerald Fennell’s directorial debut. She’s also an actress and writer on Killing Eve. Margot Robbie is one of the credited producers. The title is a reference to Brock Turner, the Stanford swimmer convicted of sexual assault in 2016 – despite his conviction, he was referred to by some as a “promising young man.”

The Good: Fennell makes an impressive debut. Promising Young Woman is stylish and confidently made, with a confrontational script that’s sure to provoke some audiences. It veers wildly from different genres – one minute it’s a quirky indie, the next it’s a standard-issue romcom, and at other times it’s an edgy revenge tale. I liked that I never really knew where it was going. Robbie may have had eyes on acting in it herself, but Carey Mulligan is absolutely perfect in the role of Cassandra. Mulligan has always had an icy persona in many of her on screen roles – it’s probably why she never broke out as a mainstream A-lister – and she uses that demeanor to remarkable effect here. Definitely gave me some Gone Girl flashbacks. Comedian and Eighth Grade director Bo Burnham is also pretty charming as Ryan, until he’s not. Great soundtrack too – a lot of killer needle drops throughout the film.

The Bad: Cassandra’ s revenge plan is a bit silly and conveniently plotted. There are a ton of recognizable, funny actors cast as the dude-bros who face Cassandra’s wrath, but their talents are largely wasted – as the script isn’t really concerned with maximizing the comedy. It has the veneer of black humor, without actually injecting a lot of humor.

Should You See It?: Yes. Whether you end up loving it or hating it, there’s still a lot to recommend here. The movie stays with you, long after it’s over. And, if this hits too close to home for a lot of guys in the audience, all the better. Watch out for Mulligan’s performance and Fennell’s script to get nominated come Oscar time.

Star Rating: **** out of 5 stars

Better Than: The Brave One, Jennifer’s Body

Worse Than: Kill Bill Vols. 1 & 2, Gone Girl

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