“Promising Young Woman” is a dark comedy about a woman spiraling out of control and seeking revenge against predatory men after a traumatic event in college. Star and executive producer Carey Mulligan stuns as 30-year-old Cassie, who goes out to a bar once a week and pretends to be extremely intoxicated to teach the man who takes her home an unforgettable lesson.
For years after the mysterious events that took place in medical school to her best friend Nina, Cassie lives her day as a barista in a quirky coffee shop. By night she finds men who need a lesson on consent. When an old college classmate, played by Bo Burnham, comes back into Cassie’s life, it triggers her into wanting to teach those who didn’t believe Nina a very specific lesson. She sets up traps for those who still deny the wrongdoing and forgives those who apologize and learn.
Just when she starts to let go of her anger and move on, new evidence in Nina’s case puts her on a final journey of pure revenge. With a plan, Cassie, dressed up as a sexy nurse, crashes the bachelor party of the man who hurt Nina the most.
The ending of this film is like a roller coaster that perfectly fits this twisted yet fresh take on a revenge plot. As the film climaxes, so starts an orchestrated cover of Britney Spear’s hit “Toxic,” which brilliantly sets the pace for the finale.
Emerald Fennell, a British actress and the director and screenwriter of this film, explores rape culture with eyes wide open in her film debut. She breaks down how today’s rape culture is still perpetuated: the friends who cheered it on, other women who protect the accused, and the lawyers who defend the accused and victim blame the accuser.
Carey Mulligan is one of Hollywood’s underrated actors despite her immense talent. Throughout the movie, you feel the weight of Cassie’s emotions, and you root for her to get revenge just so she can move on. Each mark she makes in her revenge diary signals each time she has found a man who would take advantage of her, and there are dozens of names. Mulligan used that fear women have of rape and turned it into anger that eventually boiled over.
I know, you are probably wondering, didn’t she say this was also a comedy? Mulligan’s darker and more complicated character is completely contrasted with Burnham’s character, Ryan, Cassie’s old classmate who she starts dating in the film. He brings in the witty, dark humor. Fennell was also the showrunner of the second season of the dark comedy series “Killing Eve,” which no doubt had an influence when it came time to write the script.
“Promising Young Women” is one of those films you can’t stop thinking about after watching. It’s an unforgettable movie with a talented lead actress that’s sure to leave an impression on everyone.