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Promising Young Woman

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United Kingdom, United States · 2020
Rated R · 1h 53m
Director Emerald Fennell
Starring Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Adam Brody
Genre Thriller

Cassie, a med school dropout pushing 30, is defined by her friend’s rape and subsequent death. She spends her nights pretending to be hopelessly drunk, exciting predatory men, who are stopped in their tracks when she reveals her sobriety. But an unexpected encounter gives her the chance to get revenge for real…

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What are people saying?

Kelsey Thomas Profile picture for Kelsey Thomas

To me, this film felt kind of flat and unfunny, with limp, 2D characters and an equally limp, 2D "message." The film's villainous "nice guys" especially gave hammy and tepid performances that distracted me from the wit in the script that most critics are quick to praise. But it's hard to say how much of this was intentional, and I'd love to get behind the reconfiguration of the rape-revenge genre -- for now, though, maybe just in theory.

What are critics saying?


The A.V. Club by A.A. Dowd

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.


Screen Daily by Anthony Kaufman

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.

75 by Brian Tallerico

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.


The Playlist by Jason Bailey

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).


IndieWire by Kate Erbland

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.


Entertainment Weekly by Leah Greenblatt

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.


TheWrap by Monica Castillo

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.


The Hollywood Reporter by Todd McCarthy

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.

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