Promising Young Woman

By Andrew McManus - Contributing Columnist

Directed by Emerald Fennell

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Connie Britton, Adam Brody

Runtime: 113 Minutes

Rating: R (for strong violence including sexual assault, language throughout, some sexual material and drug use.)

Originally my plan was to see The Marksman this week. The new Liam Neeson action-thriller. We will get to it next week but I wanted to catch Promising Young Woman before it was completely gone from theaters. I had heard great reviews and talked with my boss Aaron Wagner at The Counseling Center about my weekend plans. The plan was to get away for the day and catch an early showing. I’m glad it did! I try not to look at other reviews but I have been paying more attention to Rotten Tomatoes as in the coming months our reviews with Portsmouth Daily Times will be on there as well. Very excited for that. This film has been released in limited fashion and was just rereleased on January 25th, 2020 at Sundance. I heard the reviews were great and from the trailer I was intrigued.

Onto the film.

We open and immediately confusion set in for me. Our protagonist Cassie (Mulligan) is in a nightclub and it appears she is highly intoxicated. We see a group of men talk about her and its clear their motives aren’t good. One man named Jerry (Brody) offers to call an Uber. Good intentions so far. On their way to drop her off, he offers to take her to his place. As they get back, he tries to make her a drink, and again she’s in no shape for anything. However, this is all a ruse. She jumps up and shows she’s completely sober and attacks him. We then realize her goal. She goes out nightly and tracks down men and gets revenge. Goodbye Jerry. We then see a notebook Cassie (Mulligan) has filled with hash marks and names. The list is VERY long.

By day Cassie (Mulligan) works at a coffee shop. She lives at home with her parents Stanley and Susan Thomas (Brown and Coolidge) and they both act as a great supporting cast. The story continues and in the beginning it came off as a thriller to me. I can’t speak more highly of how Mulligan portrayed her character. You see how far she pushes things, and you see the sadness played out nightly in evening the score and you feel for the character. In the backdrop of this all is the reasoning for these nightly hunts. Years prior she was in medical school with her friend Nina., and Nina was attacked by a group of students. This is the fuel for Cassie. As I mentioned the film starts as a thriller, then the genre shifts. She meets an old classmate named Ryan (Burnham) and shockingly the film twists into a romance. The whole mood of the film changes. The score is more upbeat, the lighting and colors are brighter. This film is like a roller coaster and it shakes you in another direction as soon as you get settled. We then start to see the film unfold into chapters with titles cards between each person Cassie wants to get revenge on. This reminded me of the Kill Bill films and their chapters. This wasn’t a coincidence.

The film then twists back and forth between budding romance and thriller. We have touched the comedy genre at times with Cassie’s parents and coworkers.

I was thoroughly impressed with how this blends between genres and plot points. Some films feel disconnected, like you are watching 3 different movies in one. The director and writers do an excellent job of blending it all together. This was no easy feat.

I won’t give anymore of the plot, but I can say I was shocked many times. Seeing movies weekly, I can usually decipher the plot and guess endings early on. Not this film. I was shocked and impressed and in awe many times. The entire cast work well in their given rolls. We even get a small bit part by Christopher Mint-Plasse (Mclovin from Superbad) and another roll by New Girl’s Max Greenfield. They both play completely different roles than we are accustomed to and it works. The plot does feel weak at certain points and does seem to drag on. The runtime is less than 2 hours but it felt like 3. That is good and bad. I enjoyed the story and how everything evolved but also can think of a few scenes that played on too long. The cast picked up the film throughout and I feel with other actors it might not have worked. Whether you can catch this film before it leaves theaters, or watch it on demand. I highly encourage it. As I spoke last week about News of the World being an Oscar contender. I’m confident Carey Mulligan will get a best actress nomination as well. Go see this film. 4 stars out of 5

By Andrew McManus

Contributing Columnist

This writer’s opinion is their own and not the opinion of this newspaper

This writer’s opinion is their own and not the opinion of this newspaper