20th Jan2021

‘Promising Young Woman’ Review

by Kevin Haldon

Stars: Carey Mulligan, Clancy Brown, Alison Brie, Adam Brody, Bo Burnham, Connie Britton, Laverne Cox | Written and Directed by Emerald Fennell

There has been a somewhat of a surge, in recent years, of female empowered revenge tales. Jodie Foster had The Brave One a little while back, Sarah Bolger had the sensational A Good Woman is Hard to Find, I personally enjoyed Natalia Leite directed M.F.A too. These films are all films that immediately spring to mind due to the performances put in by their leading ladies and just how insanely good they were.

Now comes Carey Mulligan, an actress that I’ve obviously seen before and enjoyed her performances but as yet she had failed to really impress me on any real level. Then I saw Promising Young Woman, a movie so brilliantly written with its jet black comedic and dark, real, tone; expertly directed by Emerald Fennell in a feature debut so strong, powerful and graceful that for me it has cemented Carey Mulligan as a bonafide leading lady.

We meet Cassandra (Mulligan) at a very strange period in her life when she has taken it upon herself to seek out the horrible rapey men of the world and take them down… Like permanent… Forever… Dead. We begin to realise that due to a traumatic event years back shes exacting revenge against anyone who crosses her path with a special interest in the people involved in the event. However a friend from ways back Ryan (Burnham) has appeared in her life and Cassandra may just be finding herself falling for him…

Emerald Fennell… This is not a new name to the industry, Emerald has been on the scene for a bit now but I imagine Promising Young Woman is the movie that people are going to take notice of. I don’t know why I seem to gravitate to movies of this genre but for some reason I do and often they are your run of mill sub par attempt at it; however – honestly – this film stands out from the crowd. The script is tight and has just enough little droplets of humour to stop it from being bogged down. I really like the idea of having this style of movie but not sticking to the narrative of ‘all men are evil’ some of them are just really bloody stupid.

The casting needs highlighted here too because yes you have some real sh*t-bag characters in here but when you have lovable Adam Brody (The OC, Shazam), Max Greenfield (New Girl) or cheeky Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad) and even Alison Brie (Community, GLOW) I guess these kind of actors just bring another level to their roles.

A well-written script with this kind of powerful lead still needs a hell of an actor to run with it and Carey Mulligan is out of this world in this role. She inhabits Cassandra with effortless grace and ease which commands you keep your eyes on the screen. The scenes at the table with her mum and dad (Clancy Brown and Jennifer Coolidge) are awkwardly delightful and her interactions with her co-worker Gail (Laverne Cox) are entertaining and real. I can’t fault Mulligan and when that violin version of Britney’s Toxic kicks in as she struts in a kinky nurses uniform you kinda know this is a case of an actor and director so in sync and trusting that they have created a special project. I feel like in years to come people will replay this scene in montages like they do with Little Miss Sunshine, when they chase the camper van, or Willem Defoe dropping to his knees in Platoon, it just has that sort of iconic feel.

I guess I don’t really have to tell you that I loved Promising Young Woman. I have gushed over it since my opening statement. Don’t ask me to apologise for that because I honestly feel like this needs to be seen. I tried to stay away to much from spoilers plot-wise but this is a movie about a specific problem that is happening more and more but we rarely hear the true extent of it.

I would ask you all to seriously give Promising Young Woman a watch and guarantee you will be entertained by this masterfully-crafted, beautifully acted, and gorgeously shot movie about a real issue that may just make you think a little more. All the while having a little chuckle to yourself but feeling a little bad for doing so. That’s what movies are supposed to do and Emerald Fennell you just shot straight to the top of my directors to keep an eye on list. Superb!

***** 5/5

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