Austin Burke’s review published on Letterboxd:
I saw this film via digital premiere, but I received a screener and absolutely plan on watching it again soon. This one is visually stunning, unexpected in every way, and it is full of top-notch performances. Carey Mulligan is the shining beacon of light that we all needed in 2020. Well, her character may not be the nicest to some, but her performance is mesmerizing. How does one capture two drastically different personalities this well? She can be warm, fuzzy, and sweet, but we also see a no-nonsense and unrelenting side that had my jaw on the floor. The key here is backstory because we have to have something in place to make us want to root for her. That is present, and even though all of her actions aren’t the morally correct decision at the time, we completely understand why she feels the way that she does.
She also feels very much like a lone-wolf throughout the film; even her parents could care less (they care about her, just not about what she wants). Then we get a co-lead performance from one of my absolute favorites in Hollywood. I have followed Bo Burnham since his youtube days, and he has always been brilliant. We know he can direct, crush standup, and write, but can he act? The answer is a resounding yes. He may even over-act at points in this film, but I did not care because I was so locked into their genuinely sweet relationship. The way they continue to push our emotions in different directions is brilliant. That is my biggest compliment here; the fact that this film feels predictable, yet totally and consistently throws you off throughout, is a remarkable achievement. This allows it to completely set itself apart.
From a visual perspective, it is top-notch, as we have eye-popping color, swift camera movements, and extravagant locations. It is not your typical journey, and it will not make its decisions without consequences. It feels beyond realistic because of this, as Emerald Fennell just knows exactly how to toy with the audience (in the best way). The final few scenes are getting pushback, and I can understand why in terms of the convenience of it all, but I felt it was a rousing finale for an already entertaining film. The movie is not entirely consistent from beginning to end, as I felt a slight drag within a few scenes. We could have trimmed out some unnecessary dialogue, but the majority plays heavy importance. It is easily one of the better films of the year, and Promising Young Woman delivered on every ounce of hype.
🔙Pieces of a Woman
🔜The Midnight Sky