Promising Young Woman (2020) Movie Review

Promising Young Woman – Stylish Revenge Thriller

Director: Emerald Fennell

Writer: Emerald Fennell (Screenplay)

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Adam Brody, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox

Plot: A young woman, traumatized by a tragic event in her past, seeks out vengeance against those who cross her path.

Tagline – Take her home and take your chances.

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Promising Young Woman starts as we meet Cassandra (Mulligan) who goes around meeting men in a drunken state, where she teaches lessons to them who try to take advantage of vulnerable women. She gave up her career in medical school to work in a small coffee shop, where she carefully plans her revenge on the people that did her wrong in the past.

As Cassandra meets Ryan (Burnham) she looks to complete her mission, only for it to take one more twist, which will give her the closure she has been desiring.

Thoughts on Promising Young Woman

Characters & Performances – Cassandra was once a promising medical student who dropped out after an incident, she now works in a coffee shop and spends her nights looking to send a message to men who take advantage of drunk women, she is on a mission to get revenge, something she has planned for and wants to see people experience the pain she did. She is calm and calculated with every action, not taking any abuse from any man. Carey Mulligan does give us a career best performance in a role that shows just how easily someone can be broken by never getting the closure she needed. Ryan is the former classmate who has go onto become a doctor, he comes into Cassandra’s life, offering her a chance to escape this darker life she has found herself in. Bo Burnham does show excellent chemistry with Mulligan to make his character different to most of the other guys in the film. We do meet a host of people in Cassandra’s life, which include her parents that want her to move on, work friend Gail who is filled with a positive attitude, along with the people Cassandra has been lining up to get revenge on. Each member of the cast shines in this film too.

StoryThe story here follows a former med student who is looking to teach men a lesson on taking advantage of them, while planning her own revenge on the people that never listened to a story in her life. This story is a smart revenge plot, which is clearly trying to raise the awareness of sexual assault and the lack of ways of solving the problems around it, with the usual ‘he said, she said’ reaction to it happening, forcing our lead character to solve the problem in her own way. The way this story is told, is very stylish, showing how close to being completely over the edge Cassandra could be, or how easily she give this up and try and live a normal life, which is a big part of the appeal, most revenge thrillers, usually show the person having no other option than to continue. The one part of the story I would have liked to have seen more about, it what she does to the men, we learn she doesn’t kill them, but just what does she do to send the message?

ThemesPromising Young Woman discusses the biggest talking themes of the modern era, showing how the #Metoo movement is being handled, showing how the ‘I was a kid’ argument can’t be an excuse anymore, it is played out like a revenge thriller that is teaching the people the lesson in a way where they can feel the pain of what might have happened too. The use of music is wonderful too, with the twist on the Toxic song playing a huge part of the biggest environment we are tackling here.


Promising Young Woman is a brilliant directorial debut from Emerald Fennell that is filled with style, class and a direct message.

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