"Promising Young Woman" stars Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox, and Connie Britton. Released on December 25, 2020, the film is about a woman who attempts to avenge her best friend.
The film featured the directorial debut of Emerald Fennell, who is known for her involvement with the television series "Killing Eve". There are some women in this world that you don't want to mess with, especially when you're not playing nice with them. A while ago, we were treated with a list of official nominations for this year's Golden Globes and Critics' Choice Awards, which means it's time for me to get caught up on the films that made it to those lists. Let's start with the one that came out at the most beautiful time of the year because when I think of the holidays, I think of a woman punishing selfish men. Initially set for a spring 2020 release, this film was delayed indefinitely due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic until it settled for a Christmas release. I guess nothing spreads holiday cheer more than a movie about girl power. I was initially planning on seeing this film in the theater after they reopen again. However, because of the new work hours I had to deal with, I had to settle on waiting until it's available to watch at home. For those waiting for me to review this dark comedy thriller, I hope the wait was worth it. So far, almost everyone seemed to have enjoyed Emerald Fennell's directorial debut. Plus, it earned four Golden Globe nominations and six Critics' Choice nominations as of this writing. Now that I finally got the chance to see it, was it able to impress me as well? Let's find out.
The story follows Cassie Thomas (Mulligan), a 30-year-old woman who lives with her parents in Ohio and takes advantage of men at clubs. She dropped out of medical school years ago when her best friend Nina Fisher got raped by their classmate Al Monroe (Chris Lowell), and the school and legal systems didn't hold him responsible. As a result, Nina committed suicide sometime later. When she hears that Al is hosting a bachelor party to celebrate his upcoming wedding, Cassie decides to exact revenge on the people who treated her and Nina wrong. There's a lot to unpack from this film, if I got to be honest with you. On paper, it does resemble a female-empowering revenge thriller that's more dialogue-driven than action-packed. However, if you read between the lines of that said paper, you can see that it's a revenge thriller representing something out of a #MeToo movement. From my perspective, it's a film that attempted to tell its viewers that equal justice should not go unnoticed and entertain them with its thrills at the same time. This type of mixture wasn't 100 percent perfect in my eyes. However, it offered a bold and exhilarating example of making a dialogue-driven thriller as exciting and provocative as a violence-driven one. It showcased some narrative choices (especially the ending) that could run the risk of alienating its audience. Yes, that includes people who were expecting it to be another regular thriller. However, those choices paid off exceptionally well as Fennell's script managed to work around its thriller tropes and offer a fresh and twisty portrayal of girl power through stellar dialogue. Carey Mulligan proved that she's a force to be reckoned with as she provided some tough competition towards the other best actress nominees. Her performance as Cassie was so delightfully terrifying it made me want to think twice before I go anywhere near her. She's the best part of the film, in my opinion. Bo Burnham also turned in a satisfying performance as Ryan Cooper, Cassie's former classmate. I also enjoyed the irresistible chemistry between Mulligan and Burnham during the film's second act, and that's coming from the guy who isn't into romance films that much. I felt terrible about how it turned out in the end, but at the same time, I'm also impressed that the film took that risk. In addition to her worthy screenplay, Fennell has proven herself to be a respectable director as well. Her direction provided an ideal mixture of grim themes and comedic moments along with a vibrant and alluring cinematic appeal. Not to mention the fact that Anthony Willis' musical score was a treat to listen to, and yes, the film's instrumental version of Britney Spears's "Toxic" was good as well.
Overall, while it didn't delve deeper into its troubling subject matter, "Promising Young Woman" is a compelling and stimulating debut from writer/director Emerald Fennell. Lead by an impressive performance by Mulligan, Fennell's superb direction, and a well-written screenplay, the film not only works as a gleefully entertaining thriller, but it also works as a reminder that the actions from the past should not go unpunished. I know that this review seemed short to you guys, but come on. How am I supposed to talk more about it without spoiling the whole story? The film is something that you're better off watching blind to get the full shocking experience, if you're into revenge thrillers, of course. This is an unsurprisingly excellent start to my "award binge-watch marathon" thing. Here's hoping the other ones that I'll be checking out soon are just as fantastic as this.