“Promising Young Woman”: Fun and Thoughtful Thriller

In preparation for the Academy Awards on April 25th, the Corral will be reviewing every potential Best Picture nomination

Promising Young Woman is directed by Emerald Fennell and stars Carey Mulligan and Bo Burnham. 

“Promising Young Woman” is directed by Emerald Fennell and stars Carey Mulligan and Bo Burnham. 

Trey Williams, Managing Editor

“Promising Young Woman” is directed by Emerald Fennell and stars Carey Mulligan and Bo Burnham. Without spoiling anything, “Promising Young Woman” is about a woman named Cassandra who goes to clubs pretending to be intoxicated in order to attract men that want to take advantage of her. After being taken to their apartments, she gets revenge.

This movie is incredible. The acting here from the two leads is top-notch. Carey Mulligan knocks it out of the park here. Her emotional range is incredible and very believable. Bo Burnham, famous for his unique stand-up material, also does a fantastic job.

I also adored the score of this movie. There are some great scenes that are made even better by these tense, uneasy orchestral passages. This provides a horror-movie aesthetic, a great choice.

The story here is super entertaining. From the very beginning the movie pulls you in. By the time the movie ends you don’t know where your two hours went.

What elevates this movie above a fun thriller are the underlying messages. The film focuses on how society treats women that have been sexually abused. While this movie has received some criticism regarding the presentation of these issues, I thought that it was masterfully done.

The film can be very on-the-nose, but I think that this is a special case of this helping this movie rather than hurting it. For example, seemingly every negative thought about women who have accused a man of sexual assault is stated by a character this movie. While this gives some scenes a PSA vibe, I think that the directness here will force people to self reflect in a way that a more subtle approach could not have done.

This movie takes very little time to slow down and focus on the emotional side of these characters. Some have criticized this, claiming that this movie hijacks a sensitive social issue just for shock value, but I think the lack of emotional introspection about the main characters adds layers to what the movie is trying to say. The audience is made aware of the main character’s mental state through logos rather than pathos. While other movies might shove it in your face that a main character is sad, this movie purposefully avoids doing so in order to make a point. If I know from knowledge of the main character’s past why they feel a certain way, why do I need a scene of them crying to somber piano music in order to care as much? This idea portrayed through the film making is also explored through the actual story, which gives the message twice the impact.

All of that said, this was not a perfect movie. I think while there were some cool shots, more could have been done to make this movie visually interesting. This movie also did not emotionally affect me as much as it could have due to the heavier focus on the thriller aspects, though I do appreciate why that decision was made.

Despite those reservations, I highly recommend this movie. This movie has rubbed some people the wrong way, but I think more conversations about a movie like this, positive or negative, are great to have.

Rating: 4.5/5