Paul Elliott’s review published on Letterboxd:
Double Primetime Emmy Award-nominated Emerald Fennell, perhaps best known for her television work, including Call the Midwife and Killing Eve, has created an assured and boisterous directorial debut with Promising Young Woman.
Fennell furnishes the film with a visual style which features substantial amounts of symbolism as it follows Carey Mulligan as Cassie Thomas. Cassie's past includes a traumatic incident that plagues her incessantly and sees her working during the day at a fashionable coffee shop while confronting men on their improper behaviours in the evenings. It's a tight script, and the film is inhabited by some accomplished performances, especially from Mulligan. It tackles rape culture more broadly than many comparable films by not just addressing the violent ordeal itself but looking at the other impacts caused by an inadequate system that causes further suffering because the victim is disbelieved.
The film is true to Cassie, and Fennell demonstrates with dexterity what overwhelming degrees of sorrow and remorse have done to her life. While they have made her profoundly dark and unforgiving, she inevitably arouses a round of applause as her pronouncements are accurate. It's not a nuanced drama, and at times it creates an off-kilter tonality as there's some dark humour mixed with the sexual assault commentary, which only strikes fluctuating levels of success. However, on the whole, this is a snaky and powerful revenge thriller with some candy-coloured scenery which is striking and paramountly heartbreaking.