This empowerment fantasy film of a woman who steamrolls male egos is as stylish and fun as its portrait of gender relations is dire. See if our movie critic says it’s worth venturing back into theaters for.
“You know, with my reading a book like this, you’d think the male characters might realize something is up …” Cassie (Carey Mulligan) takes a break from work in a scene from writer/director Emerald Fennell’s black comedy/revenge thriller PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN. Credit: Courtesy of Focus Features. All rights reserved.
WATCH THE TRAILER(S) HERE:
DIRECTOR: Emerald Fennell
KEY CAST MEMBERS: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Chris Lowell, Laverne Cox, Alison Brie, Jennifer Coolidge, Clancy Brown, Sam Richardson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Adam Brody with Connie Britton, Molly Shannon and Alfred Molina
THE BACK STORY: Cassandra “Cassie” Thomas (Carey Mulligan) leads a very interesting life. Working at a local coffee shop under her boss Gail (Laverne Cox), she still lives at home with her parents Susan and Stanley (Jennifer Coolidge and Clancy Brown) despite being on the cusp of her 30 birthday and seemingly has no friends. Well, she did have a friend in Nina, her medical school colleague who suffered a very unfortunate incident that contributed to her untimely demise.
Be that as it may, Cassie has found a new hobby: Going to night clubs and acting highly intoxicated, waiting for an unsuspecting male suitor like Jerry (Adam Brody) … or Paul (Sam Richardson) … or Neil (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) to pick her up to take her home. Then she teaches them a lesson they’ll never forget so that they don’t try and do something like that ever again.
So, when Ryan Cooper (Bo Burnham), another former medical school colleague, strolls into the coffee shop to ask her out, she is obviously reluctant to do so at first. But while Ryan continues his pursuit of her, Cassie learns of some news about another former college colleague, it sets in motion a series of events that will show hell hath no fury like a Promising Young Woman scorned …
THE REVIEW: The type of movie that women will rally behind and make more than one man reconsider apologizing for any and all past misdoings, Promising Young Woman has some moments that might feel a tad over-the-top … But the payoff of writer/director Emerald Fennell’s work is definitely worth the price of admission.
Mulligan’s diligence to making Cassie a character you understand the motivations is what drives Woman from start to finish, even at times when some characters could seemingly be forgiven for their actions. But, in the tradition of films like Who’s Next?, Peppermint and Gone Girl, Mulligan’s total commitment makes you forgive any of the films flaws and/or exaggerations necessary to make the film work. Credit should also go to Fennell – who was nominated for two Emmys during her time as the showrunner for Killing Eve – however, for making every one of her lead’s actions both understandable, relatable and much more sympathetic than the alternative. Cassie prefers to prevent instead of punish in most instances, keeping her character’s female machismo from reaching the cartoonish levels of that plagued the most recent Charlie’s Angels film from start to finish.
To say much more will ruin some of the surprises that lie ahead in the film; all you need to know is the film’s trailer gives you just enough information to let you know the promise of the film deserves your interest.
If nothing else, it’ll be a good conversation starter if you suspect you have a significant other with whom you wish to talk.
OVERALL RATING (OUT OF FOUR POSSIBLE BUCKETS OF POPCORN):