Awards Season Movie Review: Promising Young Woman

promising_young_woman_ver3_480x.progressiveIt’s rare to find a movie that can pull off wild tonal shifts without seeming disjointed, but writer/director Emerald Fennell pulls it off well here. Mixing elements of black comedy, revenge horror, and rom-coms with the sort of flashy, arthouse drama we haven’t really seen much of in the last decade or so, we wind up with a movie that looks and feels every bit as current as its #MeToo subject matter.

Cassie (Carey Mulligan) dropped out of medical school after her best friend was raped during a party on campus. Now nearing 30, living with her parents, and working at a coffee shop, she spends her evenings going out to area bars and nightclubs and pretending to be very intoxicated so that invariably, a “nice guy” will come along and offer to help. When this assistance turns into an attempt to take advantage of her and her condition, she snaps to and proceeds to teach these men a lesson or two. That is, until she meets Ryan (Bo Burnham), whose genuine kindness and interest in her get her to finally begin moving past her guilt over not being able to help her friend all those years ago, and get her life back together. Of course, old habits die hard…

Carey Mulligan is sensational as Cassie, adeptly handling her character’s shifts between ennui, disgust, sorrow, joy, rage, and of course, total inebriation. The rest of the stacked cast also excel in their parts, even when they aren’t given much to do with them. Emerald Fennell’s script is often wickedly funny, while still simmering with righteous anger and underscored with grief. While the hip soundtrack, bold color choices, and often striking cinematography can make the film feel like it values style over substance, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Women are all too frequently subjected to the sorts of appalling behavior exhibited towards Cassie, and it is all too often swept under the rug. The fact that this movie also happens to be “fun” only helps to give the serious moments more impact. It’s a vicious rollercoaster ride that you will immediately need to talk about with someone else, and easily one of my favorites of the year. ★★★★★ – Sean Farrell

Available on Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack

Click here for awards & nominations.

★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor

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