Promising Young Woman Fulfills Its Promise

The Stream: Suspension of disbelief has its limits and this goes right up to the line.

The Big Screen: One of the smartest and most original scripts of the year.

The Final Bill: All of the parts come together for an unforgettable experience.

– Trip Fontaine
Director: Emerald Fennell
Writers: Emerald Fennell
Stars: Carrie Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Laverne Cox
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Rating: R for violence including sexual assault, language and drug use
Runtime: 1 hour 53 minutes
Platform: In theaters and premieres on VOD on January 15, 2021

Since I saw the first trailer for Promising Young Woman at the beginning of last year, I have been looking forward to seeing what this intriguing movie would be. Of course, due to the pandemic, the original release date of April 2020 was scrapped and I had to wait until after Christmas to finally see it. AND, I risked it all to see this movie in a theater; but, as of today, you can now catch Carey Mulligan’s stellar performance from the comfort of your own home. Promising Young Woman is best if you go into it cold, but as a brief synopsis, Emerald Fennell wrote and directed this story about a young woman, whose life has stalled since a tragic event in her past, and follows the extreme measures she takes to cope until a new opportunity presents itself. I can’t keep a secret – this movie blew me away.

Carey Mulligan plays Cassie, the young woman with the aforementioned promise, whose world was rocked when she was in medical school, and now she’s taking matters into her own hands. Cassie is bold and cunning and smart as a whip. She’s disarming, reckless and determined. Mulligan hits every note just right and plays Cassie with that delicate balance in tone that this film strives for. It is something special when the right role and the perfect actress come together. Don’t be surprised to see Carey Mulligan popping up in this year’s Best Actress races.

This is Emerald Fennell’s first feature film as a director, and she has previously written episodes of “Killing Eve.” She clearly has a firm handle on mixing thrilling elements and humor. The social commentary throughout the film is so thought-provoking while also being incredibly entertaining. There is not a boring moment throughout. Fennell has written not only an interesting plot, but the dialogue throughout is sly and calculated to keep you off guard.

There is some discussion about whether Promising Young Woman is a comedy or a drama. That categorization probably doesn’t matter. It certainly is dramatic, and there is definitely comedy here, but it is as dark as they come. With a cast populated by Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Jennifer Coolidge, Max Greenfield, among others, there is a clear intent to infuse humor into what can be a dark and triggering subject matter. No matter how you classify it, ultimately, it is just really good.

S2S: Official Rating Scale

Really, everything comes together just right in Promising Young Woman. It is refreshing to see a new film that has something new to say. This one is it. Do not miss it. If you want to brave the theaters or rent this one at home, it is worth the time and money and the big box of popcorn.