Starring: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie
Director: Emerald Fennell
Running Time: 113 mins
Promising Young Woman is an American film about a woman still reeling from a traumatic event during her time at college who sets out on a path of revenge against those who have either wronged her in the past or seek to abuse her in the present.
Centred on an electrifying lead performance by Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman is a staggeringly audacious, shocking and powerfully resonant thriller that provides a rollercoaster of emotions as it tackles challenging themes in effortless style.
The film can at times be shockingly dark, while at others it’s a vibrant, sleek thriller that’s absolutely exhilarating to watch. From Emerald Fennell’s striking direction to the film’s ingenious score, the pitch-perfect use of dark comedy and the brilliantly nuanced characterisation, there is so much that makes Promising Young Woman a real masterpiece.
But it’s Carey Mulligan that really steals the show. With a mesmerising blend of style and chilling intensity, Mulligan’s performance here as an infuriated woman seeking revenge on those who cross her path is simply incredible, with such a powerful presence that she even looms large when her character isn’t on screen.
In tandem with the fantastically nuanced characterisation of Emerald Fennell’s screenplay, Mulligan doesn’t just play a vengeful, psychopathic woman, but nor is she an infallible crusader striking down all those who are guilty of heinous deeds in the past and present.
Mulligan’s intensity makes her a character to be feared at times rather than supported, and that plays in so well to the way that Promising Young Woman tackles its core themes of feminism and fighting against sexual abuse.
It would have been easy for the film to go purely on the attack, portraying Mulligan’s character as a great crusader against all men, but Promising Young Woman recognises that pure, brutal vengeance isn’t helping the matters at hand.
With a riveting mystery surrounding the kind of revenge she takes on her targets, the film becomes a perfectly-poised balance between supporting her against immoral and even evil antagonists, and questioning the nature of her methods and what consequences they might bring about themselves.
That’s what I loved so much about Promising Young Woman, the way it takes on challenging and prickly themes with a blend of staggering audacity and measured, nuanced writing, making it a gripping and emotionally resonant watch from start to finish.
Speaking of audacity and emotional resonance, some of the risks that Promising Young Woman takes are truly spectacular. Though the film may occasionally feel a little soft in its middle act, its ability to push towards bold and unrelentingly dark drama makes it a true rollercoaster that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout.
Bolstered by gorgeous cinematography, a thrilling musical soundtrack, fantastic supporting performances and pitch-perfect pacing, all brought together brilliantly by director Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman is a film that you can never take your eyes off, somehow proving both deliciously entertaining and powerfully shocking. So, that’s why I’m giving the film an 8.4 overall.