Promising Young Woman is a 2020 American black comedy thriller film written and directed by Emerald Fennell in her directorial debut. It stars Carrie Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge and co-stars Laverne Cox and Connie Britton.
This film follows Cassie Thomas (Mulligan), a 30 year old medical school drop out who lives with her parents in Ohio. Years before, her classmate Al Monroe raped her best friend Nina Fisher and the school’s legal team dropped the investigation, leading her to commit suicide. Cassie then starts spending her nights at clubs, letting men take her to their houses and revealing her soberness when they take advantage of her.
At the coffee shop she works at, she gets asked out by a former classmate Ryan Cooper (Burnham). On their first date he tells her Al is getting married. Cassie then plans a revenge on the ones responsible for Nina’s rape. She meets Madison McPhee (Brie) for lunch, an old friend who doesn’t believe Nina was raped. Cassie then gets her drunk and hires a man to take her to a hotel room. The next day Cassie listens to several voicemails from a very upset Madison, who doesn’t remember what happened. Cassie goes to Elizabeth Walker (Britton), the dean who dismissed the case of Nina’s sexual assault due to lack of evidence.
After Madison confronts Cassie in front of her house, wanting badly to know what happened after that lunch. Cassie tells her nothing happened. Madison gives her an old phone containing a video of Nina’s rape before threatening her to never contact her again. Cassie sees Ryan on the video. She confronts him and threatens to release the video if he doesn’t tell her where Al’s bachelor party is going down. Ryan tells her and begs for her forgiveness, but Cassie turns him down. She disguises herself and goes to party to try and seek revenge on Al.
This film is definitely a #MeToo rape revenge film that is very dark and disturbing, at times too much. Although this film may be relatable for those that have been through sexual assault or those that know someone who has, it still manages to be entertaining. I don’t know why this is also called a dark comedy, because I saw no humor whatsoever. Severe violence to another person is not funny at all and if you have a weak stomach, I don’t recommend you watch this movie. It has a feel similar to 2005’s Hard Candy and 1976’s Carrie. Some might call this a feminist film, big payback’s a b*tch type as well and it is both. It’s a movie showing that women are not sexual toys to be taken advantage of, that there are some terrible in the world and how many legal cases get dropped when they shouldn’t.
Carrie Mulligan is outstanding as Cassie Thomas, giving us just enough brain, fake hooker, flirtatiousness and bad*ss revenge seeker. This is definitely one of, if not her best role to date. This role was tailor-made for her, although her character is pretty similar Suicide Squad’s Harley Quinn. Margot Robbie could’ve played this role, but not as seriously as Mulligan. Bo Burnham is fantastic as Ryan Cooper, Cassie’s short time boyfriend and eventual enemy. He tries the whole time he and Cassie are together to cover up the Nina Case and does a great job until Madison reveals the truth.
Alison Brie, who in my opinion, isn’t always the best actress, did an excellent job as Madison McPhee. She portrays the new mother and angry ex-friend with such feeling, you forget Brie started out on a sitcom, because she is not the adorable naive and bubbly girl anymore, she’s a serious woman with bite and fight. Connie Britton is good, not great as Dean Elizabeth Walker. Maybe that’s because her part is small. To me, she needed to be more in the film, as she is an important character. Clancy Brown and Jennifer Coolidge are just good, nothing fantastic, in their roles as Cassie’s parents. They too, needed bigger roles, as they are equally important as well.
Overall, this film is wild, disturbing and wicked. It is very entertaining, except the violence is a bit over the top. Not for anyone who can’t handle lots of gore and brutality. But if you’re a fan of thrillers or a fan of the film Carrie, (either version), you’ll definitely enjoy this film. Adults Only. 4/5