Fennell complicates matters throughout, toying with our identification by pushing Cassie’s tactics into some uncomfortably nasty places, even as she slowly reveals her motives.
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Promising Young Woman builds to a truly shocking climax that delivers Fennell’s themes with a dark and twisted sense of humour—and justice. It’s a clever and unexpected turn in a film full of surprises.
I’m not sure the ending lands, and some of the tonal jumps could have been refined, but there’s so much movie here to unpack and discuss.
Promising Young Woman is always entertaining and it will linger for a long, long time.
Haphazard as “Woman” can seem, it all somehow pulls together at last with a satisfying smack.
There’s no denying that Fennell is playing with dynamite here, and knows it; the brashness of her approach and style is welcome, and her work is often riotously funny (especially when edging into darker territory).
Emerald Fennell’s raucous debut, Promising Young Woman, twists its buzzword-laden, spoiler-free synopsis — it’s a #MeToo rape revenge thriller with bite! — into something fresh and totally wild.
As satire, Woman‘s first two acts are fun but broad: a winky, wildly stylized slice of girl-powered revenge porn. And Mulligan, who’s always given smart, delicately shaded performances in movies like Far from the Madding Crowd and An Education (she was great in 2018’s underseen Wildlife) is an entirely different animal here: furious, damaged, ferociously funny.
Thanks to Mulligan’s electric performance and Fennell’s packed script, the movie never feels as if it lags, but it doesn’t go far enough to smooth over the choppy changes between the film’s witty moments and its stomach-churning dramatic scenes. However, there’s still a lot of promise in Fennell’s film, both in its message, its rape-revenge-influenced riff, and the boundaries it wants to push.
Fennell’s film could be called a polemic, but dramatically it’s so sharply and boldly laid out that its narrative shocks rule the day. It’s jolting to witness how it refuses to let anyone off the hook.