In this topical and timely new thriller, PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN immediately starts with Cassie (Carey Mulligan) out for revenge after her best friend was sexually assaulted and finds her prey in a unique way; she lures unsuspecting men to be attracted to her and WANTS her male counterparts to not only realize the error of their ways but acknowledge it to her. This all comes to a head when she meets a doctor (Bo Burnham…yes, the comedian and the director of EIGHTH GRADE!) who has a connection to a person who is connected to her friend’s assaulter and sets off a violent chain of events.
Some of the best moments in the movie are when Cassie dresses up in different types of attire (business woman, party girl, hipster) and pretends to be intoxicated, only to turn the tables right at the moment when her date has officially crossed the line. Sadly this happens more often than we think, and even when intoxicated there should still be enough power in your brain to pop the breaks and know when to make better decisions. But many people still don’t and move forward anyway, which is all part of Cassie’s plan. She takes it a step further and uses the “Sorry you did it, or sorry you got caught” question, which is a powerful moment.
This is a very cautious movie. Initially hearing about some of the plot-points of PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN I was a bit worried that this would be a man-hating feminist revenge plot, but filmmaker Emerald Fennell (a quite popular performer from THE CROWN making her feature debut here) takes everything in an original and fascinating direction; the picture shows the toxic masculinity that absolutely exists in some areas of party and “bro” culture, particularly in people with more power that can have over people with less success, but it also shows both sides with reality and respect, all the while in a great drama with some surprising dark comedy aspects too.
All of this is centered around a brilliant performance by Carey Mulligan, who I have been a fan of ever since seeing her many years ago in AN EDUCATION and many features over the years, and does some of her very best work in an Oscar-worthy performance. I only feel PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN’s air is let out a touch in the final scene and a character that we think is a good guy turns out to be complicit in the main story, this is still an unpredictable and memorable first feature from Fennell, who has nowhere to go but up.
About The Blu Ray:
Shot digitally using a mixture of digital and film lenses giving it that lived-in film quality, PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN has a unique look that comes across well the Blu Ray. With that said, the included Google Play digital copy is 4k HDR so I ran that instead to watch the movie the first way through and ran the Blu Ray to listen to the commentary track. Both high-def presentations show off the slightly low-budget look with strong colors in both indoor and outdoor settings and a great use of the wide scope format. Like with most recent Universal releases I am curious why more 4k HDR discs aren’t made as an option to consumers as the added resolution very much blows away current HD material on both disc and streaming.
The DTS master audio track I wished was a bit louder in areas where it should have been; it oddly comes across as quieter in some of the nightclub and bar scenes but there’s also some subtle but powerful surround sound use along with great use of the music score. Not a demo disc for the soundtrack however it works for the material.
The star of this Blu Ray release is the commentary track by Emerald Fennell (who appears to have done this all via Zoom or Skype recording) who gives very screen-specific comments and a great compliment to the feature as we learn about the casting and influences; she cites NIGHT OF THE HUNTER as her favourite movie which is referenced in a few key scenes, for example. Also an actress herself, we get a really nice look into the creative process. There are also a few additional featurettes that talk more about the filming and creative process that have been the standard for Universal lately and run under 10 minutes for each section.
PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN works well throughout and is a showcase for the powerhouse that is Carey Mulligan. For this home video release, if you have a 4k monitor I’d opt for buying the Apple TV version which has a higher resolution transfer. If you’re rocking just Blu Ray and HD at the moment, however, this is a solid release that is worth adding into your collection.
PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN is now available on Blu Ray from Universal. As always, thanks to Universal PR for sending along a copy for review.