Film Review: Promising Young Woman

Review By Frances Winston

Directed by: Emerald Fennell – Starring: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox, Connie Britton

Available on Sky Cinema from April 16th

I feel like I’ve been talking about this film forever, because I actually saw it back at the beginning of 2020, in the halcyon days when we could go to the cinema and attend film festivals. Unfortunately, like so many movies, it has had its release shunted about, thanks to Coronavirus. While it did get a cinema release in some territories, that would appear to be unlikely here, so thankfully distributors have seen fit to release it for streaming on Sky Cinema.

You’ve probably already heard a lot about this, as it’s become a bit of a darling on the awards circuit. Mulligan plays Cassie, a 30 year old medical school dropout, who works in a coffee shop by day. By night however, she lives a completely different life, hitting clubs and bars, and pretending to be blind drunk, to see what men will try to take advantage of her, so that she can teach them the error of their ways. Her actions are motivated by the suicide of her best friend, Nina, who killed herself after being raped, and Cassie is determined to get justice for her.

I’ve seen this described as a revenge thriller, but honestly, that feels rather trite. This is a bold and provocative examination of the far reaching effects of sexual assault. It is beautifully crafted, with extremely clever twists and turns that leave you gobsmacked.

You equally admire and question Cassie’s actions, and worry for her safety. Mulligan is brilliant in the lead, managing to convey all the characters complexities and remain likeable, despite some of her questionable actions. The supporting cast are all wonderful, but this is very much Mulligan’s film. Also, do look out for writer and director, Fennell, in brief cameo as a Vlogger.

The look and feel of this film are wonderful, the cinematography is gorgeous, but a special mention must go to the soundtrack, which is one of the best of the last couple of years. Each track feels like it was plucked directly from Cassie’s head, and there are no fillers here. After you watch the movie, do check it out on Spotify, because it’s fantastic.

This is an extremely audacious twist on the revenge flick, and is a gripping watch. It will infuriate you at times, and won’t leave you with the satisfying catharsis that these films usually do. It will linger with you long after you watch, and ultimately, will leave you questioning everything you’ve seen. But this is all good. It stimulates debate, which is something that is needed at the moment. If you only watch one movie this weekend, make it this.

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