Promising Young Woman (2020) - Second Review

Promising Young Woman (2020) - Second Review Cover

Promising Young Woman is the 2020 directorial debut of performer-turned-director Esmerald Fennell and stars Carey Mulligan in the lead role. The film, which first garnered major acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival, is a sharp, timely, and well-acted revenge drama/thriller that feels urgent and personal - Fennell's writing and direction is strong, and Mulligan's transformative performance grounds the film in a place of truth and power. Fennell grounds the movie in a place of realism, delivering a drama/thriller that doesn't rely too much on hyperstylization, and instead manages to pack its punches through its powerhouse lead performer and compellingly written script. Coming in at just under two hours, Fennell's Promising Young Woman is a perfect example of what a good director and performer can do together, espescially when your lead is Carey Mulligan, who deserved more acclaim long before this film. Promising Young Woman is honest, personal, engaging, and powerful - this well-directed movie finds its place as one of the best of the year.

Carey Mulligan is excellent in the film and acts a worthy lead performer to ground this movie - her turn as Cassie is powerful and deeply personal. With this role, Mulligan gets to show her range, and her work here is quite deserving of the "Best Actress" buzz it has generated. It's ultimately hard to imagine Promising Young Woman without Mulligan, who brings the sensibilities of a seasoned performer to this role, imbuing nuance where the script calls for it. As a supporting performer, Bo Burnham might seem like a strange casting choice, but Burnham shows that his talents as a standup and film director also extend to his abilities as a Hollywood actor. Alison Brie, Laverne Cox, and Alfred Molina have less to do in the film, but act as solid additions to the ensemble that makes up the film. 

Promising Young Woman is directed with pitch-perfect precision and focus, and the timely messages and themes of the film feel ingrained into the narrative, and brought to life by the terrific performances. The movie is sharply written, paced incredibly well, and directed with a real sense of emotion and urgency; Fennell and Mulligan make the story of the film feel consistently real and compelling. Thanks to the superb collaboration between director and performer, the vision for Promising Young Woman shines with clarity and purpose, telling its story with just the right flourishes of power-packed storytelling and nuanced writing. With Promising Young Woman, debut director Esmerald Fennell tells a timely story with powerful lucidity - here is a new filmmaking voice worth looking out for.

Final Verdict:Promising Young Woman is a timely, sharp, and powerful film held by an excellent performance from Carey Mulligan.