Promising Young Woman (2021) Review
Updated: Oct 18, 2021
Cassandra (Carey Mulligan) is a seemingly-quiet, innocent young woman. But after a tragic experience befell her best friend, Nina, she begins her crusade to torment those who wronged her best friend, and any other man who plans on doing the same to a helpless young woman ever again.
The film adheres to a typical revenge structure on the surface, but much like the protagonist herself, Promising Young Woman is so much more and cannot be discussed properly without revealing key plot elements, but trust me - if you're looking for a story with an abundance of exhilarating twists and turns, Fennell's female crusade has it in spades.
Carey Mulligan steals the show as the sadistic Cassandra, making you feel simultaneously empathic and aghast towards the sweet sociopath. Sudden changes of her tone when confronted with alarming information, as well as a cliché but effective lingering stare, made Mulligan shine in a career-making performance for one of Britain's most underrated actresses.
No character is good without great writing, and Emerald Fennell managed to produce a wonderful screenplay which contained little-to-no plot holes throughout such a jam-packed story, containing plenty of twists and turns which were all paid off by the unforeseen conclusion.
I am a sucker for good cinematography - to be able to enhance an engaging and coherent story through the use of compelling shots is no easy task, but Benjamin Kracun (known for The Third Day) used his atypical shooting techniques to create a film littered with beautiful shots which concurrently foreshowed down-to-earth character and story development.
Much like cinematography, a film's soundtrack is also an effective way to translate story progression, but in the end, it can just be a good feeling to hear classic tunes you hadn't heard in a while.
Promising Young Woman used both techniques by providing original remixes of songs imbedded into pop culture such as Raining Men and Angel Of The Morning, as well as a chilling orchestral version of Britney Spears' Toxic - all of which perfectly complimented the tone being presented during each scene.
The film suffered from a jagged shift from comedy to darkness at times, but in the end, that is what truly made Promising Young Woman great. Emerald Fennell's breakout film refused to adhere to typical thrillers, never allowing the audience to be one step ahead of the plot, keeping them three steps behind in order to allow for an even greater shock by its fulfilling conclusion.
Promising Young Woman is up for four Golden Globes at the time of writing - Best Screenplay, Actress (Drama), Director and Motion Picture (Drama) - and if it doesn't acquire at least one, it will be a crying shame as the film is a game-changer and will keep audiences invested long after the credits roll.