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Watch Promising Young Woman (2020), Story, Stars, Reviews & All You Want To Know About A Great Movie

Sep 21, 2022
Watch Promising Young Woman (2020), Story, Stars, Reviews & All You Want To Know About A Great Movie

Watch Promising Young Woman (2020), Story, Stars, Reviews & All You Want To Know About A Great Movie

 

Promising Young Woman (2020)

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

Promising Young Woman is a 2020 black comedy thriller film written, co-produced, and directed by Emerald Fennell in her feature directorial debut. It stars Carey Mulligan as a young unstable woman haunted by a traumatic past as she navigates balancing forgiveness and vengeance. It also features Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Chris Lowell, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox, and Connie Britton in supporting roles.

Promising Young Woman had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 25, 2020, and was theatrically released in the United States on December 25, 2020, by Focus Features. It received positive reviews from critics, with praise for its screenplay, direction, and Mulligan’s performance, and grossed $19 million worldwide.

The film won Best Original Screenplay at the 93rd Academy Awards, with additional nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Mulligan), and Best Film Editing. Fennell also won Best Original Screenplay at the Critics’ Choice Awards, Writers’ Guild Awards, and British Academy Film Awards.

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Promising Young Woman (2020) Trailer

 

Promising Young Woman (2020) Reviews

A woman at a bar appears incredibly intoxicated, falling over in her seat and barely able to keep her head up, when she’s noticed by three average guys. One of them, played by Adam Brody, saunters over to her with, he tells himself, the best of intentions. She’s in trouble. He’s a “nice guy.” And if he doesn’t get her home safely, a bad guy may do something horrible to her.Something he would never do, of course. So he introduces himself to Cassie (Carey Mulligan), who’s clearly way too intoxicated to know what’s going on. And, of course, as he helps her get home, he suggests maybe that they go to his apartment first. Despite her being barely conscious, he starts to kiss her and then moves to the bed. And that’s when he realizes that not only is she not drunk but he’s not really a nice guy.

Cassie, the heroine of Emerald Fennell’s ambitious debut “Promising Young Woman,” has an interesting hobby. Dropping out of med school years ago after an undefined trauma involving her best friend Nina, she works at a coffee shop now, and entraps men at night into revealing that their own perception of their moral code is a form of denial.Fennell reveals what happened to Nina slowly in “Promising Young Woman,” but it’s clear she was a victim of not just one privileged man but a system that protected the criminal over the accuser. Cassie is trying to dismantle that system one shitty guy at a time.

Two events propel Cassie into rethinking her strategy. First, she reunites with an old classmate named Ryan (Bo Burnham), and the two start dating. Burnham and Mulligan have solid chemistry, and Fennell doesn’t rush their courtship, making it feel more genuine and believable that Cassie would let her guard down for the first time in a long time. However, Ryan also reveals that the man who sent Cassie on this spiral of grief and trauma is back in the United States after spending time in London.

This spurs Cassie on to an endgame to her lessons about male privilege and moral authority, finally going after the people who helped destroy her best friend.

“Promising Young Woman” is a tonal roller coaster, but that’s part of the point. Trauma often makes for swings of mood and decision making, and Mulligan and Fennel never forget that Cassie is a traumatized person, taking out her pain on the patriarchal system that enabled it. It’s a film about a woman searching for catharsis that she’ll simply never find. Look at the notebook with the names of the men she’s taught a lesson—there are dozens of them.

And there’s a sense that even going right to the people who caused this pain can only do so much, which is then enhanced by an intense final act. I have to admit I thought Fennell had written herself into a corner—it felt like nothing could possibly satisfy Cassie’s emotional arc—but then she pushes right through that corner with a final act that will divide audiences but I admire for its audacity the more I sit with it.

There are times when it feels like Fennell bit off a bit more than most debut writer/directors do, but give me a young filmmaker who swings for the fences over one who plays it safe any day. And give me one who makes a movie that doesn’t just use trauma as an emotional manipulation or put women in jeopardy as a cheap writing trick. “Promising Young Woman” is as confident as its protagonist, a film that’s willing to be a little messy and inconsistent in a way that reflects Cassie’s existence.She works in a coffee shop and has supportive parents, but every day is filled with the reminder of what she’s lost. She sits at night looking at photos of her best friend when they were young. We often see trauma and overriding grief on film as clean, neat character traits, but I think the tonal whiplash of “PYW” captures something about the inconsistency of these issues better than most movies even try to do.

Cassie is brilliant and beautiful, but she can’t stop herself from fighting back against systems that protect awful men in whatever way she can, even if that fight keeps her locked in a box of her own design.

What’s funny is that this probably all makes “Promising Young Woman” sound more intense than it actually is. There’s a lot of dark humor in this film, which makes sense from the season two showrunner of “Killing Eve,” and an honestly solid relationship drama for part of it.

Burnham proves he can carry a film like this, holding his own opposite Mulligan, and doing a wicked lip sync job on a pop music classic. As for Mulligan, she’s phenomenal again. She almost always is. Cassie is a really tough part, the kind that would have stymied other actresses into pushing into camp and the kind of balancing act that people will underrate.

In the light of the next day, a lot of the issues I had with “Promising Young Woman” almost feel like strengths now. I’m not sure the ending lands, and some of the tonal jumps could have been refined, but there’s so much movie here to unpack and discuss. Even at Sundance, a lot of films dissipate from memory on the way to the next screening. Not this one. Not for a long time.

  • Brian Tallerico –  Roger Ebert
  • Brian Tallerico is the Editor of RogerEbert.com, and also covers television, film, Blu-ray, and video games. He is also a writer for Vulture, The Playlist, The New York Times, and Rolling Stone, and the President of the Chicago Film Critics Association.

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Promising Young Woman (2020) Credits

Promising Young Woman (2020)

Rated R

113 minutes

Cast

Carey Mulligan as Cassie

Bo Burnham as Ryan

Alison Brie as Madison

Adam Brody as Jez

Connie Britton as Dean Walker

Jennifer Coolidge as Susan

Laverne Cox as Gail

Max Greenfield as Joe

Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Neil

Sam Richardson as Paul

Molly Shannon as Mrs. Fisher

Clancy Brown as Stanley

Chris Lowell as Al Monroe

Steve Monroe as Detective Lincoln Walker

Director

  • Emerald Fennell

Writer

  • Emerald Fennell

Cinematographer

  • Benjamin Kracun

Editor

  • Frédéric Thoraval

Composer

  • Anthony Willis

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Promising Young Woman (2020) Plot

Cassie Thomas, a 30-year-old medical school dropout, lives with her parents and works at a coffee shop in Ohio. Seven years earlier, a classmate she believes to be Al Monroe raped her best friend, Nina Fisher. There was no investigation by the school or consequences from the legal system, and Nina ultimately committed suicide. Now, Cassie spends her nights feigning drunkenness in clubs and bars, allowing unsuspecting men to take her to their homes and revealing her sobriety should they try to take advantage of her.

Cassie goes on a date with another former classmate turned pediatric surgeon, Ryan Cooper, who mentions Al is getting married. She begins a plan to exact revenge on Al and others who are suspected of bearing responsibility for the rape. She meets another former classmate, Madison McPhee, who continues to deny that Nina was raped. Cassie gets Madison drunk and hires a man to take Madison to a hotel room. With no memory of what happened, Madison leaves several distraught voicemails for Cassie, who does not answer them.

Cassie next targets Elizabeth Walker, the school dean who dismissed Nina’s case for “lack of evidence”. Cassie lures her teenage daughter, Amber, into her car by posing as a makeup artist for a popular band. Later, she meets Walker under the pretense of resuming her education and questions her about Nina’s case.

When Walker explains away her actions, Cassie tells her she dropped Amber off at a dorm room with drunk male students. A terrified Walker apologizes for her inaction, and Cassie reveals Amber is safe at a diner. Cassie cancels a date with Ryan and instead again lures a man into taking her home. As they are walking out of the bar, they run into Ryan, who, not knowing what is really happening, is hurt.

Cassie visits Jordan Green, Al’s lawyer, who harassed Nina into dropping the charges. Green, on leave from practicing law after a nervous breakdown following Nina’s suicide, is remorseful, and Cassie forgives him. After visiting Nina’s mother, who urges her to move on, Cassie abandons her revenge plans. She also apologizes to Ryan, and they fall in love.

Madison confronts Cassie outside her house, desperate to know what happened after their lunch. Cassie reassures her that nothing happened. Madison gives her an old phone containing a video of Nina’s rape before warning her to never contact her again. Watching it, Cassie sees Ryan as a bystander. She confronts him and threatens to release the video unless he tells her where Al’s bachelor party is being held. Ryan tells her and demands her forgiveness, but Cassie refuses.

Cassie arrives at Al’s bachelor party posing as a stripper. She drugs Al’s friends and takes Al upstairs. She handcuffs him to a bed and eventually reveals her identity. As she prepares to carve “Nina” onto Al’s abdomen, he breaks free and suffocates her with a pillow. The next morning, Al’s best friend, Joe, helps him burn Cassie’s body. Her parents file a missing person report and the police begin to investigate. Ryan tells them Cassie was mentally disturbed and does not tell them she was going to the bachelor party.

At Al’s wedding, Ryan receives several scheduled texts from Cassie. Green is shown receiving a package from Cassie with the video of Nina’s rape and instructions to follow if she does not return from the bachelor party. Gail, Cassie’s manager and friend, finds a half heart-shaped necklace with Cassie’s name under the cash register; Cassie was wearing the matching half with Nina’s name when she was killed. The police discover her burnt remains and the necklace, and arrest Al for the murder as Ryan receives a final text from Cassie, signed with her and Nina’s names.

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Promising Young Woman (2020) Box office

Promising Young Woman grossed $6.5 million in the United States and Canada, and $12.5 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $19 million.

In North America, the film was released alongside Wonder Woman 1984News of the World, and Pinocchio, and was projected to gross around $2 million in its opening weekend.[26] It went on to debut to $719,305, finishing fifth at the box office. Some 63% of the audience were female, and 74% were aged over 25.

The film dropped 4.4% in its second weekend to $687,900, then made $586,285 in its third weekend, finishing sixth both times.[28][29] The film continued to hold well in the subsequent weekends, including seeing a 16% bump following its four Golden Globe nominations, with a running total of $5.1 million by February 21.

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Promising Young Woman (2020) Critical Response

Promising Young Woman received critical acclaim.[31][32] On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, Promising Young Woman holds an approval score of 90% based on 414 reviews, and an average rating of 8.1/10. The site’s critics consensus reads, “A boldly provocative, timely thriller, Promising Young Woman is an auspicious feature debut for writer-director Emerald Fennell – and a career highlight for Carey Mulligan.”

On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 73 out of 100, based on 48 critics, indicating “generally favorable reviews.”[34] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “B+” on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported 73% of those surveyed gave the film a positive score, with 43% saying they would definitely recommend it.[27]

Kate Erbland of IndieWire gave the film a “B+” and wrote “Emerald Fennell’s raucous debut, Promising Young Woman, twists its buzzword-laden, spoiler-free synopsis—it’s a #MeToo rape revenge thriller with bite!—into something fresh and totally wild.”

Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Justin Chang said “The grimly multitasking finale of Promising Young Woman feels both audacious and uncertain of itself, as Fennell tries to meld a cackle of delight and a blast of fury, with a lingering residue of anguish. It doesn’t all come together, though there’s an undeniable thrill in seeing it come apart.”[36] Linda Holmes of NPR wrote that while Cassie is the film’s focus, “Fennell is saying something here, too, about men. About nice men and about men who think they’re nice men, or nice enough men.”

In Variety, Dennis Harvey praised Mulligan’s performance as “skillful, entertaining and challenging”, but questioned her casting, writing that she wore her “pickup-bait gear like bad drag; even her long blonde hair seems a put-on”. He speculated that producer Margot Robbie may have once been intended for the role instead. Mulligan criticized the comment, saying, “I felt like it was basically saying that I wasn’t hot enough to pull off this kind of ruse … For this film, you’re going to write something that is so transparent? Now? In 2020? I just couldn’t believe it.

” Variety issued an apology, saying the review had been insensitive and “minimized” her “daring performance”.[38] The National Society of Film Critics defended Harvey’s review and criticized Variety’s apology. Harvey responded to Mulligan’s comments in The Guardian: “I did not say or even mean to imply Mulligan is ‘not hot enough’ for the role.'” He pointed out that he was a 60-year-old gay man and did not “go around dwelling on the comparative hotnesses of young actresses”.[39]

Aisha Harris of NPR stated that Cassie does not get satisfaction from her acts of revenge, something differing from characters in other thrillers where characters take revenge.[40] A. A. Dowd of The A.V. Club stated that Ryan Cooper initially is contrasted with predatory men and “represents the possibility of forgiveness, a light at the end of the dark tunnel [Cassie has] been traveling through since college.”

In regards to why Ryan chooses to cover for his friends when the police interview him, Fennell said: “He so wants to be good. But he’s not going to blow up his own life.” In regards to the reveal showing his true character, Dowd said: “Even those who didn’t participate are complicit for their silence, their justifications, their refusal to intervene.”

Dowd added that the casting of Burnham, who “comes across as nonthreatening” and has “a boyish quality,” assisted the use of the character. Harris stated that Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s portrayal of Neil had “just the right amount of creepy, entitled energy.”

 

Promising Young Woman (2020) Accolades

Promising Young Woman was nominated for five categories at the 93rd Academy Awards and won Best Original Screenplay.[43] This film was longlisted in 13 categories at the 74th British Academy Film Awards, including Best Director for Fennell, Best Actress for Mulligan, and Best Supporting Actor for Burnham.

It was finalised at six categories and won two awards, for Best Original Screenplay and Outstanding British Film.

It was nominated for four categories at the 78th Golden Globe Awards, and six at the 26th Critics’ Choice Awards.[47] It won Best Actress for Mulligan and Best Original Screenplay for Fennell.

It further received a Screen Actors Guild Awards nomination, and four AACTA Awards nomination, winning Best International Film and Best International Actress for Mulligan. Most of the awards, were directed to Mulligan and Fennell, for the performances, screenplay as well as direction, respectively.

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result
Academy Awards April 25, 2021 Best Picture Ben Browning, Ashley Fox, Emerald Fennell, and Josey McNamara Nominated
Best Director Emerald Fennell Nominated
Best Actress Carey Mulligan Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Emerald Fennell Won
Best Film Editing Frédéric Thoraval Nominated
AACTA Awards March 6, 2021 Best International Film Won
Best International Direction Emerald Fennell Nominated
Best International Screenplay Nominated
Best International Actress Carey Mulligan Won
American Cinema Editors Awards April 17, 2021 Best Edited Feature Film – Comedy Frédéric Thoraval Nominated
Art Directors Guild Awards April 10, 2021 Excellence in Production Design for a Contemporary Film Michael T. Perry Nominated
Austin Film Critics Association March 19, 2021 Best Film Nominated
Best Director Emerald Fennell Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Nominated
Best Actress Carey Mulligan Won
Best First Film Won
British Academy Film Awards April 11, 2021 Best Film Ben Browning, Emerald Fennell, Ashley Fox, and Josey McNamara Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Emerald Fennell Won
Best Casting Mary Vernieu and Lindsay Graham Ahanonu Nominated
Best Editing Frédéric Thoraval Nominated
Best Original Music Anthony Willis Nominated
Outstanding British Film Emerald Fennell, Ben Browning, Ashley Fox, and Josey McNamara Won
Casting Society of America April 15, 2021 Feature Studio Or Independent – Drama Mary Vernieu and Lindsay Graham Ahanonu Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association December 21, 2020 Best Picture Nominated
Best Director Emerald Fennell Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Nominated
Best Actress Carey Mulligan Nominated
Milos Stehlik Award for Promising Filmmaker Emerald Fennell Won
Costume Designers Guild Awards April 13, 2021 Excellence in Contemporary Film Nancy Steiner Won
Critics’ Choice Movie Awards March 7, 2021 Best Picture Nominated
Best Director Emerald Fennell Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Won
Best Actress Carey Mulligan Won
Best Costume Design Nancy Steiner Nominated
Best Makeup Nominated
Directors Guild of America Awards April 10, 2021 Outstanding Directing – Feature Film Emerald Fennell Nominated
Dorian Awards April 18, 2021 Best Film Nominated
Best Director Emerald Fennell Nominated
Best Screenplay (Original or Adapted) Won
Best Film Performance – Actress Carey Mulligan Won
Florida Film Critics Circle December 21, 2020 Best Actress Runner-up
Best Original Screenplay Emerald Fennell Nominated
Best First Film Won
Golden Globe Awards February 28, 2021 Best Motion Picture – Drama Nominated
Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama Carey Mulligan Nominated
Best Director Emerald Fennell Nominated
Best Screenplay Nominated
Hollywood Critics Association March 5, 2021 Best Picture Won
Best Female Director Emerald Fennell Nominated
Best Actress Carey Mulligan Won
Best Supporting Actor Bo Burnham Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Emerald Fennell Won
Best Editing Frédéric Thoraval Nominated
Best Hair & Makeup Promising Young Woman Nominated
Best Cast Ensemble Nominated
Best First Feature Emerald Fennell Won
Filmmaker On The Rise Won
Hollywood Music in Media Awards January 27, 2021 Best Music Supervision – Film Nominated
Best Soundtrack Album Won
Independent Spirit Awards April 22, 2021 Best Director Emerald Fennell Nominated
Best Female Lead Carey Mulligan Won
Best Screenplay Emerald Fennell Won
London Film Critics’ Circle February 7, 2021 Film of the Year Nominated
Actress of the Year Carey Mulligan Nominated
British/Irish Actress of the Year Nominated
Breakthrough British/Irish Filmmaker of the Year Emerald Fennell Nominated
Los Angeles Film Critics Association December 20, 2020 Best Actress Carey Mulligan Won
Best Screenplay Emerald Fennell Won
Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild April 3, 2021 Best Contemporary Make-Up in a Feature-Length Motion Picture Angela Wells, Brigitte Hennech, and Adam Christopher Nominated
Best Contemporary Hair Styling in a Feature-Length Motion Picture Daniel Curet, Bryson Conley, and Lee Ann Brittenham Nominated
MTV Movie & TV Awards May 16, 2021 Best Movie Nominated
Best Performance in a Movie Carey Mulligan Nominated
National Board of Review January 26, 2021 Best Actress Carey Mulligan Won
Palm Springs International Film Festival February 27, 2021 International Star Award Carey Mulligan Won
Producers Guild of America Award March 24, 2021 Best Theatrical Motion Picture Josey McNamara, Ben Browning, Ashley Fox, and Emerald Fennell Nominated
Santa Barbara International Film Festival April 8, 2021 Cinema Vanguard Award Carey Mulligan Won
Screen Actors Guild Awards April 4, 2021 Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role Carey Mulligan Nominated
Seattle Film Critics Society February 15, 2021 Best Picture of the Year Nominated
Best Director Emerald Fennell Nominated
Best Actress Carey Mulligan Nominated
Best Screenplay Emerald Fennell Won
Set Decorators Society of America Awards March 31, 2021 Best Achievement in Décor/Design of a Contemporary Feature Film Rae Deslich and Michael T. Perry Won
Toronto Film Critics Association February 7, 2021 Best First Feature Emerald Fennell Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association February 8, 2021 Best Film Nominated
Best Director Emerald Fennell Nominated
Best Actress Carey Mulligan Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Emerald Fennell Won
Writers Guild of America Awards March 21, 2021 Best Original Screenplay Won
Goya Awards February 12, 2022 Best European Film Nominated

Promising Young Woman (2020) Movie Info

Nothing in Cassie’s life is what it appears to be — she’s wickedly smart, tantalizingly cunning, and she’s living a secret double life by night. Now, an unexpected encounter is about to give Cassie a chance to right the wrongs from the past.

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