Promising Young Woman

Promising Young Woman ★★★½

Promising Young Woman takes the revenge narrative and attaches layer after layer to make you feel indignation through the antagonist's privilege and the protagonist's duality. Carey Mulligan, as Cassandra has never been better in her career and was the perfect cast for this role - dejected and torn down but holding a significant power over the rest of the people in her life – Mulligan channels it all. A deeply traumatizing experience where the story focuses on releasing that anger in an incredibly unhealthy way is done as therapy. Crawling with hypocrisy and patriarchy, it's one of the more clever takes on the subject of rape that I'd ever seen, and it incorporates the themes and underhanded messages into the narrative so effectively.

Outside of Mulligan's star-studded performance, this film has another star, and that's Emerald Fennell in her directorial debut. The visual and performance element of this film is intoxicating, and Fennell seems to have an already established style that feels innate to her. She also wrote the screenplay, so the film is tuned to her sensibilities, and it feels personal.

Additionally, seeing this in an (empty) theater allowed me to experience the booming sound design that played a huge factor in my enjoyment of the film. The amount of beautifully timed needle drops and the sound mix came together to put you directly in Cassandra's headspace. Fennell didn't overlook one production element down to the set designs, to the script, to the costume design. Meticulously detailed direction.

Furthermore, the casting was incredibly on-point, starting with Bo Burnham as Cassie's boyfriend. Even if his character's fairly predictable from a plot perspective, Bo makes the character his own and has excellent chemistry with Mulligan. It's not a perfect performance, by any means, but I think that's the point with his character. Other than Bo, Clancy Brown, and Jennifer Coolidge, as Cassie's parents, were just unbelievably funny. Each of those scenes fill-out Cassie's character in such a satisfying way. Allison Brie, as Cassie's former best friend, is also fantastic in a small role with a dark character arc.

Ultimately, Promising Young Woman is a tragedy that ends in a fiery bang. A little overzealous at times with plain as day messaging, but a curious character study that continuously doubles downs on its provocative premise. A daring directorial debut from a director that seemingly has a strong sense of her vision and I can't wait to see what she does next.

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