I had heard the buzz around Promising Young Woman but let’s put it this way – the movie is better than the buzz. It is an incredible movie impeccably executed by a rising star director/writer and a killer cast.
Promising Young Woman is a movie about a young woman named Cassie (Carey Mulligan), as she seeks revenge for her best friend’s rape. Telling you anything more about the plot of this movie would ruin it and part of the joy is watching the story unfold, so don’t google anything, don’t talk to anyone about the plot. Just watch it the movie.
So I’m not going to tell you anything more about the plot – I am going to talk about the execution and brilliance of the production.
We’re going to start with Emerald Fennell.
I am amazed by Fennell. If you don’t know who she is, you will soon. She’s an actress-writer- director, and she does all of these things extremely well. As an actor, I’ve loved her work. She was one of my favourite nurses in Call The Midwife, Nurse Patsy Mount, and she made Camilla likeable in The Crown. As a writer, she’s written four novels and was nominated for an Emmy for her writing work on Killing Eve‘s 2nd season. She and Phoebe Waller-Bridge are apparently close friends and I get it. They are the same age, both actress-writer- directors, and the rising stars of the British screen industry. As a director, Fennell just struck gold. If she is not personally nominated for an Oscar for best director, I will be angry. This is a stunning piece of work. If this is her first feature project, I cannot wait to see what else she creates.
As I said, I don’t want to talk about the plot – but Fennell’s script is incredible. The dialogue is quick, smart, and very poignant. It feels so authentic. She has crafted a story that you can’t look away from. My understanding is that she sold the project to Margot Robbie’s production company based on the opening scene. I get it. I’d give her all my money after that scene too. It’s brilliant.
Equally brilliant is her casting choices.
Carey Mulligan shines in this role. She is spell-bounding. People are buzzing about her getting an Oscar nomination for this performance and I would add to that buzz. She carries this movie. It is *her* movie.
That being said, her supporting cast backs her up. Every single person in this movie is a beloved actor. They are all people we love. I’m talking about people like Adam Brody, Max Greenfield, Chris Lowell, Connie Britton, and Alison Brie. People who we believe are ‘nice’. It is the perfect choice to have them all become ‘bad guys’ in this film. It is shocking when the people we love turn out to be terrible. So it makes it that much more impactful when they each show up to add to the story.
I also want to note the inspired choice to put Bo Burnham in this. I have been a fan for a long time (we’re talking 2008 Youtube long time). I also loved his movie Eighth Grade. He can act and was a perfect costar to Mulligan. There is a scene in a pharmacy between the two of them that made me swoon. It is a cotton candy, millennial nostalgia, romance that sucks you in. I keep using this word, but it is brilliant. I can’t stop thinking about it.
The whole movie is cotton candy. The colours are so bright, vibrant, and neon. Even in the little details the colours pop. For example, Cassie’s nails are painted in multiple candy colours. It is so smart. It is this sweet, Barbie esque, colour palette, that makes the dark plot of the movie that much more stark.
On top of all these wonderful things, the soundtrack is *chefs kiss*. The movie opens with Boys by Charlii XCX and every single song after slaps. It is a banger album.
Overall this feels like a movie made by a millennial woman for millennial women – but I really hope that millennial men watch this. As women, we know this story and understand this story. It’s men that need this.
I want all my female friends to watch this movie, but I need all my male friends to watch it. I’m sending this to my cousins – all boys in university and telling them to watch this with their roommates.
I’m actually pretty peeved this movie got pushed by the pandemic. It first premiered at Sundance in Jan 2020 and then was originally scheduled to be released in April and got pushed and pushed. It’s coming out today on VOD and I hope it does well – but what I really hope is that the Oscars, Golden Globes and other awards honour this achievement.
Promising Young Women is on VOD.