‘Promising Young Woman’ Review: A Disturbing And Entertaining Revenge Thriller

Promising Young Woman

From the moment I saw the trailer for Promising Young Woman, I found myself eagerly awaiting the opportunity to screen this film. I adore Carey Mulligan, and the description reminded me of one of my favorite guilty pleasures from a few years back (ABC’s Revenge). And let’s be real; it never hurts when you throw in a Britney Spears song, especially “Toxic.” Sign me up!

Promising Young Woman, director Emerald Fennell, delivers a delicious new take on revenge. Everyone said Cassie (Carey Mulligan) was a promising young woman… until an event occurred that abruptly derailed her future. From the viewer’s perspective, nothing in Cassie’s life is what it appears to be: she’s wickedly smart and cunning – and she’s living a secret double life by night. The center of the plot presents Cassie with an unexpected encounter that gives her the chance to right the wrongs of the past – but things might not play out the way you expect…

Check out the trailer for the film below.


Promising Young Woman Review: What I Liked and Didn’t Like

Promising Young Woman is a dark and wickedly smart tale of revenge. And in response to my opening comment about ABC’s Revenge – this film makes that series look like it should be rated G.

While messy in parts, the storyline feels as unpredictable and (sometimes as shaky) as Cassie’s mental health. That being said, as a female, I can’t help but root for this twisted superhero of sorts who is identifying and targeting the men who usually identify, target, and take advantage of females.

Carey Mulligan delivers one of the best performances of 2020 in this role, and I suspect that we’ll see her nominated come award season here in a few months. Her performance paired with Fennell’s engrossing script packs a strong emotional punch – causing the viewer to be uncomfortable and anxious for the full run-time. The twists and turns here allow every side of Cassie to shine through – and Mulligan nails every one of them.

At its core, Promising Young Woman is a rape-revenge thriller that’s perfectly timed and incredibly creative – with an important conversation being brought to the forefront. Fennell’s script creates strong and engaging characters that fall into the storyline with ease. There is a fair amount of violence, but it’s done purposefully and with intention – weaving together this whole dark masterpiece, which by the way, is the directorial debut for Fennell.

One last note here, the entire ensemble cast also delivers performances as fantastic as Mulligan – Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Connie Britton, Adam Brody, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox, Max Greenfield, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chris Lowell, Sam Richardson, Molly Shannon, Clancy Brown. They all do an impressive job with each of their characters – however small or featured they may be.

Overall Thoughts

This film comes out on Christmas Day – despite the lack of holiday cheer it brings to the screen. I’m not sure I understand the studios’ thought-process with that decision… as this definitely not a movie I recommend you see on Christmas. There’s nothing about this film that is family-friendly or really even happy (though it does get billed on IMBD as a “Comedy, Crime, Drama”). That being said, Promising Young Woman isn’t afraid to take risks – and while it’s not for everyone, it’s one hell of an entertaining, disturbing, and thrilling ride.

Promising Young Woman Review:

Grade: A


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  1. Great review of this film, Emma! I also loved it as to me it takes a unique spin on the typical ‘revenge’ film. I love how you reference ‘Revenge’ as my wife and I loved that series until it just suddenly lost its sense of direction and the writing lost its impact. Anyway, you are correct about this film making that series look like a family show.

    I was hesitant going into this film as I cannot really tolerate films where anyone is abused, especially women being taken advantage of, so am thankful the movie was able to make its point and have its impact without showing too much. Yes, there are still some disturbing moments later on but the ending! Wow! I have heard many people say they did not like it but I don’t see how it could have ended any other way! Great film and performances!

    1. Oh man… ‘Revenge’ Season 1…. and maybe 2 (I don’t remember at this point) – were so freaking good! That was my weekly guilty pleasure show! 🙂

      I wasn’t sure what to expect going in either – I was super into the vibe that the trailer gave off (being a teen in the late 90s- anything that has a Britney Spear’s soundtrack gets my attention – I’ll own that. haha) But that ending…. I never saw that ending coming. And when a film is able to catch me that off guard… I definitely appreciate it!!

      I’m voting in the Atlanta Film Critics Circle this weekend and I have it in my top 5 films of the year – and Carey in my top female performances as well. I’m really excited to see how the Oscars and Golden Globes will react to the film too – I expect to see a number of nominations from best picture to best director to best actress.

      1. What? You are voting in the AFCC? Wow! Well I definitely loved Carey’s performance and that ending is a mind blower! Loved it!

        1. I am! Been a member since the start of the group! 🙂 I’ll have the press release up on the site early next week with winners announced! 🙂 Binging some last-minute films tonight and tomorrow!

  2. I’m not a big fan of Promising You Woman, but it has a fascinating premise. Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You does a better job tackling “rape culture” and male privilege.