Ben Oliver

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Promising Young Woman

You didn’t think this was the end, did you?
25 April 2021

Cassie (Carey Mulligan), a medical school dropout, seeks revenge on those responsible for a tragic event in her past.

This is a glossy and enjoyable thriller with a stunning lead performance from Mulligan (has she ever been bad in anything?). The soundtrack in particular is pitch perfect, and is a large part of what makes the film work.

However, peel back the shiny layer and there’s something off. It’s Killing Eve’s brand of cool girlboss feminism, but without the sense of fun and viewed through the lens of a tragic, true-to-life story. It all feels a little poor-taste.

Revenge thrillers live in fantasy-land, relying on raw emotion and catharsis. Promising Young Woman on the other hand is about avenging someone who was raped in college and as a result took their own life, and how to deal with that many years later. The choice of tone and genre clashes awkwardly with the subject matter.

Great execution, ill-advised idea.

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