REVIEW: Promising Young Woman


Whenever I hear the phrase “karma is a bitch,” I will most likely be thinking of this film for sure. 

“Promising Young Woman” serves as Emerald Fennell’s explosive first feature film, and stars Carey Mulligan and Bo Burnham. Set in modern day, this story revolves around Cassandra (played by Mulligan), a traumatized young woman who seeks vengeance against those who have wronged her, in her distant past.

Though this was Fennell’s first feature-length film as writer and director, she did an absolute banger of a job here. The themes of vengeance and the cost of what said vengeance can do, are very apparent here, and expertly handled.

There are many thrilling, and hard-hitting moments in this film, and you really feel the weight that comes with it. This is due to the sharp and, at many times, ballsy and unpredictable writing. This is largely due to the fact that Fennell is no stranger to thrillers, as she in the past wrote six of the episodes of the second season of AMC’s original hit series “Killing Eve.” It seems that Fennells home field lies within the thriller genre, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds in store for her.

Carey Mulligan … Damn, she scares me! In my last film review, I mentioned that Viola Davis in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’,” was a force to be reckoned with. I think the same rule applies with Mulligan as well. She gives off maybe her best performance in quite some time. She does such an excellent job at playing a sassy, no time to fiddle around kind of woman. At the same time beneath the surface, she has quite an emotional vulnerable side to her that many can relate to.

Her great performance is also met with that of co-star Bo Burnham’s excellently performed character. The two of them have great on-screen chemistry together, and whenever something went down between the two of them, I really felt the emotional weight that came with it that made me both sad, and once even angry (which is spoiler territory, of which I will not cross into)!

The pacing of this movie is also something particularly good. For the most part, everything that happened in this movie felt consequential to the entire plot, even down to the events that take place with Alfred Molina’s character. He isn’t in the film for too long, but his presence is very essential to the plot. Overall, the film for the most part flowed very nicely.

This movie does, however, have some faults. For instance, while you definitely feel for Cassandra due to the traumatizing event that this film centers around, the emotional weight doesn’t necessarily feel 100 percent there. What I mean by this is: we only hear about how it affected her and one of her friends, but we don’t see it.

With this, it unfortunately takes away quite a bit from the emotional factor. And while we can indeed sympathize with her, we can’t fully relate to it, as there are no flashbacks showing the aftermath of the horrible event.

Also, the emotional weight is also lacking in the dynamic of Cassandra and her parents. At around 20 minutes into the film, Cassandra’s mother makes a comment about how her and her lack of motivation to go out and meet new people, gain new friends or a boyfriend, is affecting her and her father. Yet throughout the runtime, we never see exactly how it affects them, which equates to emotions that we (the audience), can’t fully relate to. 

Still, even with all of that in mind, Fennell’s new thriller is still an absolute blast and a  thrill to watch.

It has some of the best acting of the year, a nice pace, and an ending that is one of the most satisfying (yet bittersweet)I have seen in quite some time. It made me stand up in both excitement and sadness at the same time.

“Promising Young Woman” is out in select theaters now, as well as on Amazon Prime for $19.99, and If you have the time, and/or the funds, I recommend this one to you. It’s sure to give you a good time. I look forward to seeing what other projects Hollywood will be offering Fennell in the (hopefully) near future!

Jury Declares: B+