Film Review – Promising Young Woman (2020)

Title – Promising Young Woman (2020)

Director – Emerald Fennell (feature debut)

Cast – Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Adam Brody

Plot – Single 30 year old New Yorker Cassandra (Mulligan) works a dead end job at a café in the aftermath of a traumatic event that has left her unable to live a normal life or build a normal relationship but hope arrives in the form of one time medical school classmate Ryan (Burnham).

“Can you guess what every woman’s worse nightmare is?”

Review by Eddie on 18/01/2020

While there are elements of Promising Young Woman that feel familiar, make no doubt about the fact that actress turned director Emerald Fennell’s feature debut is a beast unto its own, one that gives its star Carey Mulligan her best role in years and announces its creator as a force to be reckoned with as we witness the birth of fresh new voice in the film making industry.

As confident of a debut film as you’re likely to see, Woman sees Fennell introduce us to the world of Mulligan’s New Yorker Cassandra, a victim of a traumatic experience that we slowly begin to understand and a 30 year old that still lives at home with her parents (humorously played by Clancy Brown and Jennifer Coolidge) and seems to live solely for the purpose of unearthing sleazebags in the city that prey on those most vulnerable to fulfil their wants and desires.

There’s times were you feel as a viewer that you have everything figured out, whether it be what’s occurred, what’s about to go down or what makes a character tick but Fennell to the films benefit ensures that most steps that Woman takes are unpredictable and even at times utterly confronting, even if some may be disappointed by the type of film Woman becomes when weighed up against what it appears to at times be.

No matter where the story or Fennell takes us, sometimes these destinations feel slightly over the top or unbelievable but the core message of the film remains resolute throughout and Woman features one of recent memories most impressive female performances as Mulligan brings Cassandra to life in vivid and thoughtful detail.

A character that could’ve turned out too cold or strange in the hands of the wrong performer, Mulligan is as good as she’s ever been in Fennell’s film and the two make for perfectly suited partners in crime here as they explore Cassie’s quest for vengeance and retribution in a landscape that appears to be utterly unjust.

From her seemingly boozy opening scene, a joyous segment featuring of all things a hit Paris Hilton song right through to the films shocking final stretch, Mulligan is dynamite here and even when the film threatens to take a few too many convenient or over the top turns the awards worthy performance of Mulligan towers over everything else, including the films strong sense of visuals, a noteworthy performance from comedian/filmmaker Bo Burnham and an important message that may’ve been told before, but never quite like it is here.

Final Say – 

It’s themes may not be as original as the way in which they are bought forward and the narrative may falter at times but the topical Promising Young Woman is still highly commendable and recommendable thanks to director Emerald Fennell’s fresh delivery and a fantastic central performance from the awards worthy Mulligan.

3 1/2 oil rig workers out of 5

15 responses to “Film Review – Promising Young Woman (2020)

  1. 1. I can’t wait to watch this movie.
    2. I can’t wait to read this review in full after I watch this movie, which will not happen until it’s available on DVD.

    It is playing in my city, but I’m saving my “risky” behavior while the pandemic is still happening for going to bookstores.

    • I believe in the USA mate the film is now available as a VOD rental so you might not need to wait for the physical release:)
      Be good to hear your thoughts.

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  3. I stumbled across your blog looking for something like what I’m trying to accomplish with mine. My whole take is trying to do reviews without spoilers. I’m not sure if that’s what you guys were aiming towards or if it’s just your writing style but I love how you write about movies without giving things away. You’re articulate and informative, well done. Cheers!

    • Thanks so much for your kind words. Jordan and I were really driven to create this blog and write about movies in light of what we felt was a review culture that for some reason seemed to focus purely on relating back plot details to readers rather than talking about the film without just merely repeating a play by play of events.
      I really appreciate you stopping by and look forward to sharing more spoiler free reviews with you 🙂

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