Promising Young Woman (2020)

Movie Title: Promising Young Woman

Year Released: 2020

Rated: R

Runtime: 1h 54min

Genre: Comedy, Thriller

Director: Emerald Fennell

Writer: Emerald Fennell

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox, Connie Britton, Chris Lowell, Adam Brody, Max Greenfield, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Sam Richardson, Alfred Molina, Molly Shannon, Steve Monroe, Angela Zhou, Francisca Estevez, Austin Talynn Carpenter, Emerald Fennell

Review: Nothing in Cassie's (Carey Mulligan) life is what it appears to be -- she's wickedly smart, tantalizingly cunning, and she's living a secret double life by night. Now, an unexpected encounter is about to give Cassie a chance to right the wrongs from the past.

Promising Young Woman is a movie that grips you immediately and doesn't let go until the end credits are rolling. This film tackles sensitive subjects like rape and sexual assault, but does so in a way where those two phrases are never actually uttered in the movie. You as a viewer know exactly what types of situations are being referenced, but at no point does Emerald Fennell feel the need to spell it out for you. Fennell's script masterfully blends a heart-wrenching tale of adolescent tragedy, the revenge plot of all revenge plots, and a dash of rom-com, to create a really dark yet comedic #MeToo story.

Cassie works as a barista by day, but by night she hangs out at local clubs and pretends to be drunk to try and lure men who don't have the purest intentions. A traumatic experience involving the sexual assault of her best friend sets her on a war path to make men see the error in their ways. If one of her subjects begins to take advantage of her, then she sets them straight by any means necessary. Even keeping a journal documenting all of the scumbags she's come across. It's like a hitlist, but it doesn't appear, at least to my point of view, that Cassie is murdering any of these guys. But the fact that you still need to infer that makes things unnerving. To take things a step further, Cassie decides to make the lives a living hell of those she deems responsible for failing her friend Nina. Everyone from the headmaster of their school (Connie Britton), their ex-best friend (Alison Brie), and the abuser himself (Chris Lowell) are on the table.

This film is a roller coaster. Cassie finds love in the form of a former classmate named Ryan (Bo Burnham). He along with Nina's mother (Molly Shannon) help Cassie move on with her life, but a series of events make that a little bit difficult. What culminates in an absolutely bonkers last act of the film is nothing short of shocking. Carey Mulligan is equal parts intelligent, funny, and downright frightening. She's mesmerizing in how she somehow manages to be witty and comedic despite such a dark subject matter. In the scenes with Ryan she can be so cute and charming, but in scenes where she's on her revenge tour she can be absolutely ruthless. I applaud her ability in this film to seemingly switch back and forth like the flip of a switch. It's truly fantastic acting and it's no shock that she is nominated for Best Actress at the 2021 Oscars. I really enjoyed this film for it's great writing and performances, but also for how it handled such a sensitive subject. There's also a fair bit of fireworks and jaw-dropping twists and turns to keep you entertained throughout. You definitely won't want to miss this Best Picture nominee this Oscars season!

Stars (out of 4):

Fun Fact: The title is a reference to Brock Turner, a Stanford University student, who was convicted of sexual assault in 2016. Despite his conviction, he was referred to by some as a "Promising Young Man."


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