Comedy Crime

Review: ‘Promising Young Woman’ is a Revenge Thriller with a Twist

January 13, 2021Britany Murphy

It's always something to be considered a "promising young woman." However, it's a hard moniker to shake once you’ve decided to step away from all the things that made one so promising. That's exactly what happens to Cassie (Carey Mulligan), a woman on a vigilante mission to right the wrongs of her past.

A former med student who now works in a coffee shop alongside friend and owner, Gail (Laverne Cox), Cassie is always vague about her nightly plans with her parents, Susan (Jennifer Coolidge) and Stanley (Clancy Brown), who are constantly worried about her. Little do they know what her after-work activities really involve, and when Cassie tries to find some closure after meeting an old friend from med school (Bo Burnham), it leads her to unearthing an even darker secret that sends her back to her double-life so she can finish what she's started.

Written and directed by Emerald Fennell, what follows is a truly brilliant tale that tackles a plethora of topics, from sexual assault and harassment, to toxic masculinity and the silencing of victims. And although Fennell explores each topic in ways we've not seen before, they are also relatable within the context of the film. That is, while the story is fiction, there are many moments throughout that ring true. And for some, it will be both upsetting and maddening to watch men take advantage of Cassie believing her to be too inebriated to stand, let alone be able to consent.

Thankfully, there is an utter thrill to be felt when Cassie turns the tables on the manipulative and predatory men she comes into contact with. On this note, Mulligan is pitch-perfect, as there is never a moment where you're not drawn into her performance. At times subtle and at other times quite the opposite, Mulligan easily switches from the quiet, coffee shop Cassie to the side of Cassie that's leading a double life. It's a genuine treat to watch, as is how the movie shows that it is not always only men who are complacent in sexual assault and harassment.

Expertly written and beautifully acted, Promising Young Woman has a lot to say. And while it does tackle subject matter that may be uncomfortable for some to watch, that is also why it deserves to be seen.

Promising Young Woman releases January 15th, 2021 from Universal Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of R for strong violence including sexual assault, language throughout, some sexual material and drug use. Its runtime is 1 hr. 53 min.

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