Promising Young Woman Movie Review
A film that feels like a drunken face slap, the punchy Promising Young Woman is a colorful, spunky, and ruthless drama that goes in unpredictable directions, and straight for the aorta. Though not nearly as mindblowing as the buzz may indicate, the powerful third act is one of the best cinema has had to offer in quite some time.
As the credits rolled, my wife described Promising Young Woman as “one of the rare movies where it gets better as it goes along,” a true statement, more or less. The movie from first-time director Emerald Fennell is the kind of movie that hits a slight lull in its second act but is basically screaming that things are going to take a turn for the worse (or better, depending on how you look at it) at any moment.
And they do.
While the second act does indeed lose some of its edge, Fennell makes up for it in spades with one of the most satisfyingly vengeful climaxes of the year. It may not go at all how you’re expecting, or what you’d hope for, but in hindsight the bold, unlikely direction Fennell takes will be talked about for years.
At the movie’s core is the performance by Carey Mulligan, whose dark, calculating, off-kilter turn is unlike any other performance this year. I didn’t even know you could be calculating and off-kilter at the same time, but Mulligan doesn’t give a shit about what I know, apparently.
Between the writing, directing, acting and transcendent soundtrack, there’s much to love about Promising Young Woman. It didn’t entirely click together for me, or at least didn’t entirely live up to the hype, but maybe it isn’t supposed to. Maybe it’s supposed to be weird, uncomfortable, and disconcerting. Maybe, as a dude, I’m supposed to just let this promising young woman do her own thing and savor in the moment.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.