Promising Young Woman

Promising Young Woman

Genuinely shocked A24 didn’t make this. This is the most A24 movie I’ve seen in a while not to come from that studio. Anyway!

Emerald Fennell is a really neat filmmaker; I like how she constantly subverted the way I thought the movie was going to go. It’s less a work of bloody revenge than a film about ferocious accountability and righteous anger. Our culture around addressing issues of sexual assault seem to be improving on a macro level, but that crap still goes unchecked on a micro level all the time. Progress doesn’t stop at #MeToo, as important as that was. It has to start with just being a decent person and not tolerating indecency in any form. Fennell found a quite stylish, intense vessel for that message. 

Carey Mulligan, who I’ve been a “stan” for since An Education, is superb in this, a role that easily could’ve gone the wrong way. She’s merciless but human, secretly hoping for normalcy in a world that just seems so hellbent on denying it to her. She’s one of the true tragic characters I’ve seen in a good while. Mulligan’s performance is dangerous but wise; her character obsessed for justice but willing to forgive. It’s quite a turn for an actress who doesn’t need to prove much more that she’s one of the best working. I really liked the rapport she and Bo Burnham have, and I do wish Bo would keep acting.

The film is 100% on with its underlying thesis, and good on Fennell for refusing to compromise with how the story is told. It says exactly what it needs to say, and says it well. I’m still trying to figure out how much I gel with that third act, certainly an eye-opener with how it finds its resolution, and I’m hoping to come down on the most positive side with more thinking. I think it’s a bold and proper finale for the film’s heart, but I can’t tell how I like it for some of the characters and where we go with their journey. I think it very much works in one way, but I can’t help but wish it’d gone another? Maybe that’s the point? Maybe it’s not? Not sure!

Regardless, this is very good and urgent. We’ve not quite gotten a film like this, and it’s good enough alone for Mulligan’s performance and Fennell’s direction and writing. It’ll leave a mark and leave you hopeful for what Fennell will do next. You can’t see where it’ll go.