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‘Promising Young Woman’ review: Smart, chilling, and oh so relevant

Great script, direction, and score.

I’ve been looking forward to Promising Young Woman a lot ever since I first saw the trailer for it. I remember seeing the trailer in the theater and thinking how ambitious, important, and well done it looked. Well, after seeing it I can confirm that all those things I thought about it are true. This really is a gem of a film that I hope gets seen by as many people as possible. The cast gives this their absolute all, especially the lead Carey Mulligan. The script, direction, and score all great also; you can tell that this film was made with great care and determination.

I want to start out by saying that Carey Mulligan deserves an Academy Award nomination for this lead performance she gives. I found myself captivated watching her layered and impactful performance. She is able to juggle different tones very well and able to make her character both very strong/empowering and sympathetic at the same time. This is a tough performance that not just anyone could pull off but Mulligan absolutely kills it here!

I also need to praise the supporting cast members because everyone is just so good; no one’s phoning anything in. Bo Burnham gives a very skilled and nuanced performance as Ryan, a man that dates Mulligan’s character for most of Promising Young Woman. He has a very intriguing arc and plays it in a skilled way. Connie Britton and Allison Brie are also very good here, both of their performances have the same purpose and they both knew that purpose and executed things perfectly. 

'Promising Young Woman' review: Smart, chilling, and oh so relevant
Carey Mulligan and Bo Burnham

Chris Lowell, who I really only know from The Help shows off his talent here by giving an appropriately intense performance as Promising Young Woman’s antagonist. I liked that Lowell didn’t go too over the top evil and kept his performance realistic which makes things all the more impactful and chilling. I mean at the end of the day, men like his character aren’t obviously terrible guys most of the time. Predators and rapists can seem like nice people at first.

The last person I want to mention in this cast is Laverne Cox who provides a lighter tone when onscreen and is as likable as always. I also just want to thank the makers of Promising Young Woman for including a strong transgender woman and for not making a big deal out of the fact that she’s trans. We need more transgender representation in film and TV and I just really appreciated the inclusion.

I was so impressed with how this Promising Young Woman’s story is mapped out, it’s all very calculated. The suspense and chilling nature of the subject material builds naturally and the films events are all paced exceedingly well. Sexual assault and rape are obviously evil and the effects that victims suffer with are devastating and I really liked how that’s talked about in this film. What I also found commendable and rather unique is how the film addresses the effects on victims loved ones and how detrimental those can be.

What’s also explored is the reality that women don’t always support one another. The main character intentionally goes after both perpetrators and bystanders. She doesn’t only seek revenge from the men who did the dead, but also from the men and women who had the chance to stand up and do something but chose not to. That is something we don’t often see in films or shows about this topic and I thought it was smart of them to include that detail.

Another detail that I loved was that Mulligan’s character is not made out to be this inhuman killing machine filled with hatred, she is humanized. Promising Young Woman is all about putting that rage and righteous anger that victims have onscreen and making justice a priority, it’s not a film about a crazy lady seeking out revenge. There are certain twists and turns that occur towards the end that I found very effective and interesting. There’s one in particular that I didn’t see coming and was impressed by; these twists really amp up the overall chill/thriller element. I thought the ending was executed perfectly, it’s not what one might would expect but I thought it was very impactful. The finale has both a brutal gut wrenching feeling and a joyously empowering feeling at the same time and it just works.

'Promising Young Woman' review: Smart, chilling, and oh so relevant
Carey Mulligan

Promising Young Woman packs a heavy punch. Nearly every single detail of this film is executed with such skill, everything from the intense performances to the impactful script. This gets a big recommendation from me!

promising young woman
‘Promising Young Woman’ review: Smart, chilling, and oh so relevant
Promising Young Woman
Promising Young Woman is a very smart film that features intense performances, a great script, and a wonderful ending.
Reader Rating1 Vote
Incredible performance by Carey Mulligan
Smart script that has interesting things to say and knows how to build tension
Great performances by supporting cast members
Effective score
There really aren't any negatives that stand out to me. Give this one a watch!

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