Movie review: Promising Young Woman

director/writer Emerald Fennell

Promising Young WomanPromising Young Woman is a movie I was wary of watching. But from the beginning, it rang with a level of truth. Three guys are at a bar complaining about women in the workplace. This conversation I’ve heard about quite a bit.

Cassie (Carey Mulligan) is the title character. She has a dead-end day job at a coffee shop run by one of her few friends, Gail (Laverne Cox). At night, she hangs out at bars with a surprising plan. She has a stare that will shut up construction workers.

It takes a while for the audience to understand why this clearly intelligent and clever woman, turning 30, is still living at home with her parents, Stanley (Clancy Brown) and Susan (Jennifer Coolidge).

Then she meets Ryan (Bo Burnham), a charming former classmate with seemingly endless patience. They seem to have a real connection as they dance through the pharmacy.

Still, there are wrongs to be righted, including the big one. The movie also stars Alison Brie, Alfred Molina, Connie Britton, and Chris Lowell.

Er, ah…

I have no idea how to write more about this without massive spoilers. This I’ll say: for something described to me as a rape-revenge fantasy, I thought it was surprisingly sweet and funny in parts. The music is important to the storyline. It certainly uniquely addressed #MeToo.

And I loved the ending, even if it was too tidy. In a couple of big-time spoiler articles, NPR hated the ending but Vox loved it.

The movie title, BTW, was a reference to Brock Turner. The Stanford swimmer received a six-month sentence for rape, serving half of it because he was, in the words of the judge, a “promising young man.”

This is the debut feature film for director/writer Emerald Fennell, and she was nominated for an Oscar in both categories. She’s written for the TV series Killing Eve and has acting credits, including playing Camilla Parker Bowles in The Crown. She also has an uncredited cameo in Promising Young Woman as a how-to video guru.

This is a polarizing film. I’m sure there will be people who will hate it. 91% of the critics in Rotten Tomatoes were positive. The negative reviews used words like “stylised to the point of styrofoam flatness” (stylized, yes); and a “polemic” (probably). Even those hating the film often praised Carey Mulligan.

I rented the film on Amazon Prime.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

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