Carey Mulligan owns every second of Promising Young Woman.
This dark comedic thriller takes no prisoners. The Emerald Fennell written and directed film’s bite is a mean as its bark.
Cassie (Mulligan) is not your coffee shop employee. Just shy of thirty she’s viciously smart and moonlights as a Superhero. Superhero you say? Yes, Cassie spends her nights teaching lessons to the trash-ass men of the city. There are a purpose and a reason for our Superhero’s actions. An origin that is the crux of the film. A time when she was promising in her college days and aspirations to become a Doctor. It is when Ryan (Bo Burnham), someone from college, shows up at her shop things get complicated.
Make no mistake Promising Young Woman is a piercing and sobering takedown of men’s abradant behavior that been chalked up to “boys will be boys” for too long. It is also darkly comedic, taking aim at its subjects and their enablers, and showing them for the mockery they are. Many will think Fennell’s film goes too far. Most will more than likely be males too uncomfortable with what the film has to say about complicity.
Part of the genius of the film is the road that Cassie goes through. As they say, revenge is a forest and is easy to get lost in. Fennell uses specific genre troupes in the most unexpected of ways to have Cassie lose her way in that forest. It says so much about Mulligan’s performance as Cassie that we are with her at every turn. Shifting from comedy to the darker moments of mental instability, vengeance, and unexpected revelations.
Promising Young Woman is destined to be remembered for Mulligan’s exceptional performance and its uncompromising critique of men and their enablers. It will endure because of its pitch-perfect ending. Promising Young Woman isn’t just a thrilling entertaining movie, it’s a great piece of political cinema.