The trailers for this film make it seem like Promising Young Woman delivers a Harley Quinn vibe from The Suicide Squad. However, it is quite the opposite in a most brilliant way. Promising Young Woman has many moments of darkness in spectacular and intriguing ways. Carey Mulligan is at the top of her game as she portrays a woman that no one should mess with. Throughout the movie, I found myself mesmerized by the betrayals and the tricks she pulls to seek revenge.
Carey Mulligan is Cassandra, a medical school dropout who works in a coffee shop and still lives with her parents. In her free time, she plans and executes an array of dangerous schemes. A tragic event in her past has left her with emotional scars that set her on a path of revenge. She is determined to make those involved with the event pay. Cassandra often acts drunk, goes home with guys, but then blindsides them by revealing she is not drunk once they treat her inappropriately. While she spends a great deal of time on these risky activities, she is also slowly trying to resume a normal life as she begins to date Ryan (played by Bo Burnham). However, her desire to seek revenge is something she simply cannot let go.
The revenge scenarios in the film are very clever, and Mulligan is perfect for this role. Slowly over the course of the movie, the clues are revealed about what happened and why she is on her current path. Each time a revenge scene occurred, I found myself wondering who the next victim would be or how they were related to what happened in the past. The screenplay and the pacing of the movie deliver the story in a brutal and honest way. The audience knows that there is always evil around the corner with Cassandra, but then are left to question whether Ryan is on her side or if he may also play a part in her revenge scheme.
Mulligan’s performance is outstanding. I had the privilege to meet her in person a few years ago at a film festival, and she was quite positive and fun to talk with. She is known to play roles in films that are sad or depressing, and most of the time I am used to seeing her portray someone more mellow. In Promising Young Woman, she still can come off that way, maintaining her quiet demeanor, but then can transition to someone who is haunting and daring. That is what makes her performance so stunning in Promising Young Woman. Her chameleon-like ability to transition from a quiet and gentle soul to a woman with a truly evil side makes her performance Oscar-worthy.
Promising Young Woman has many twists and fun dialogue which had me entertained. I loved this film despite its darkness and absurdity. Those two elements were combined in an unexpected way that made the film unpredictable. That is why I loved this movie. It creatively depicts a woman with her own issues who is set on revenge and smart about getting her way. Four stars for Promising Young Woman.