Writer/director Emerald Fennell immediately makes you uncomfortable in the most sensational way, as she presents us with a revenge tale unlike it’s ever been told before. Carey Mulligan gives us a darkly provocative and layered performance making her worthy of the top prize at the Academy Awards. Balancing entertaining with enlightening, Promising Young Woman is a film that’s executed brilliantly.
Carey Mulligan stars as Cassie, a woman haunted by a devastating event from her past that left her traumatized. Rather than sit on her hands and let the trauma consume her completely, she is out for revenge against everyone that crossed her path.
This film managed to hook me within the first 5 minutes when we are first introduced to Carey Mulligan’s character, as she struggles to stay conscious at a bar, while being taken care of by someone who claims to be a “good guy”. However, we are aware that he is anything but that. From that point on, I was doing my very best not to blink because I didn’t want to miss anything. This movie sunk its claws into me with its fabulous beginning and from that point on, I knew Promising Young Woman would be something special.
A TALE OF REVENGE WITH AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE
Emerald Fennell gives a familiar revenge tale with a twist. She makes a deeply uncomfortable subject the heart of this plot and holds a mirror up to her audience to make sure that she gets her point across. Her approach to this particular incident never felt heavy handed and if you don’t walk out of this film feeling a mixture of enlightened and guilty, then you have completely missed the point. You would think the themes presented would only be found exclusively in nightmares, but sadly, due to the movie’s nature, you know that the events occurring are real and you start asking yourself how you can make these particular events better. Promising Young Woman’s depiction of men and women after such a horrific incident both surprised and didn’t surprise me. I am painfully aware of how the public acts to this particular incident, but watching all of the repercussions play out brought tears to my eyes because It’s frustrating knowing that this is all true.
Promising Young Woman’s depiction of love tugged at my heart strings and reminded me why it feels simultaneously incredible and painful. Love makes a person’s life more fulfilling and whole. However, it could also take everything away and change your life drastically overnight. Despite what I just said, I appreciated the movie’s approach to love because it reminds you why it is such a powerful emotion that we crave and enjoy experiencing.
ENOUGH STARS TO FILL THE NIGHT SKY
To properly portray this movie’s message, you need some incredible talent to make all of this come alive. The supporting cast features some excellent performances from the likes of Laverne Cox, Adam Brody, Jeniffer Coolidge, Christopher Mintz Platz, Sam Richardson, Alfred Molina, Max Greenfield, and Alison Brie. Even though they are only here for a short time, their impact makes waves and they deserve recognition for making the most of their brief time on screen. Bo Burnham, acting as Cassie’s love interest, proves to us that we will be seeing more of him in the future. His charm and charisma is infectious and I cannot wait to see what comes next for him.
As good as they all were, Carey Mulligan is even better. Her performance is diabolically hysterical, powerful, and deeply layered. She seamlessly acts out a wide range of emotions flawlessly. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her the moment I saw her and this is, for me, the best acting performance of her already stellar career. The amount of work that she puts into this role is admirable and I am hoping that the Academy presents her with the title of best actress at the 2021 Oscars. Very few in the industry could pull off what she did here. Her quiet intensity has consumed my mind and I want to give her a round of applause, along with Emerald Fennell for understanding how to create a true anti-hero that you route for, even though she is flawed.
A FEAST FOR THE SENSES
The colour pallet and fascinating musical selections of Promising Young Woman are bizarre in the most beautiful way. This movie presents us with some lovely pastels and upbeat songs that usually exude happiness. The film’s dark subject matter contrasts with both the colours and music in a truly profound way. I see this as a metaphor for the world we live in. Behind the sunshine and rainbows there is an underlying darkness. It had me experiencing mixed feelings, but it was very pleasing to the senses.
Promising Young Woman doesn’t shy away from asking tough questions and shows us exactly what happens to everyone unlucky enough to experience this absolutely atrocious incident. A fabulous script that stays compelling the entire runtime, paired with some sensational acting, especially a tour de force performance from Carey Mulligan, makes this one of my favourite films of 2020.
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