Austin Burke’s review published on Letterboxd:
I had to revisit another one of my absolute favorites from last year. This is actually the first time that I have watched a physical copy of something in quite awhile (FYC screener). I have been so caught up in new releases recently, so I wanted to take the next few days and watch some recent films again. I am happy to cement my thoughts on Promising Young Woman as one of the best of the year, and I am happy to report that the wife enjoyed it. She didn’t find it to be as complete of an experience as I did, but she had a good time with it nonetheless (I hate how she is so good at predicting plot points in films, even better than me). This is clearly Carey Mulligan’s film, but I can’t get enough of watching this for Bo Burnham. Just to see where he is now is awesome, and I love how expressive he is.
I smell a knockout performance coming from Burnham one day because of how talented he is. That being said, this is Carey’s world, and we are all just living in it. She deserves an Oscar nod for her subtle but monumental performance. To make the audience fear her like she does at times, but then become a ridiculously likable character is a bit of a triumph for what this film ended up being. It is hard to picture anyone else providing what she did. It is also just a well-written screenplay. The progression makes sense, as we slowly uncover her story in an authentic way, and then we get some incredible reveals along the way. Her mental state is a heavy focus throughout the film, but we slowly uncover why she is scarred in the way that she is. It is the conflicting feeling you get from her actions that adds more to it as well.
She may be playing a bit on the darker side through what she is doing, but she is proving every point she has to make along the way. Some of the guys she runs into here are just the worst, but then she finally finds a bit of solace in Burnham’s Ryan. Their chemistry, while awkward at first, actually ended up working quite well. We also get some incredible cameos and side roles along the way that add so much to the final product. Emerald Fennell deserves a sh shoutout for giving us something completely different. The structure is familiar, but the way this story played out had me on edge from beginning to end. It is a great film to look at, and the soundtrack is possibly one of the best from 2020. Will this be a heavy Oscar player? I am not for sure, but I certainly hope this makes a splash. We need more films like Promising Young Woman, and we need Fennell to come back and make a followup as fast as humanly possible.