Review: Promising Young Woman

I finally have a solid front-runner for my ‘best of’ list for film and lead actress for 2020. It’s Promising Young Woman starring Carey Mulligan (Wildlife, Mudbound, An Education). The movie defies the boundaries of any particular genre. It’s got dark comedy, drama, crime, vengeance, timely relevance, a great soundtrack, and a twist. Oh, what a twist.

Interestingly enough, the screener for Promising Young Woman arrived with a note from the main character Cassie – or perhaps it’s from writer/director Emerald Fennell (Killing Eve) – imploring (warning?) critics not to ruin the surprise. To reveal too much is to spoil the journey. So I’ll keep it high level:

Cassandra “Cassie” Thomas (Mulligan) is a promising young woman – a beautiful, wicked smart, and vibrant medical school student – whose life gets upended by a mysterious event on campus involving a sexual assault. She drops out of school, moves back into her perplexed parents’ house and works at the local coffee shop – by day. At night, she hits up the bars, pretending to be smashed. If a guy tries to take advantage, well, they’re likely to regret it. Cassie is on a years-long mission to turn the tables on would-be predators and settle scores with men, and women. Her cycle of destruction is finally broken by the appearance of a cute, funny and exceedingly respectful pediatric surgeon named Ryan (Bo Burnham, The Big Sick, Eighth Grade) and you can’t help but root for their relationship as we catch a glimpse of the promising young woman Cassie once was.

Promising Young Woman is a feminist thriller with a sharp comedic edge that manages to be insightful and entertaining, light and dark – and a perfect showcase for Carey Mulligan’s versatility and appeal. She navigates bright and damaged, bitter and funny, vengeful and romantic.

If you’re looking for an adult drama that totally defies expectation this holiday/awards season, keep an eye out for Promising Young Woman – available at home on demand for a 48-hour rental period beginning Friday, January 15th.

Arty Chick weighs in: I totally agree with Mainstream Chick on this one. It’s not at all what you expect and the twists and turns the plot takes are inspired. Carey Mulligan is fabulous in the role and yes, you can’t say too much or you’ll ruin it for everyone. But go see it. I wonder though, how men will react. I’m sure it will make many of them uncomfortable, and maybe that’s a good thing. It’s a movie every adult should see.

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