Promising Young Woman (2020) – Movie Review

A blink and you’ll miss it thriller from late last year. This is definitely worth a watch. A revenge tale that shines a spotlight on human behavior and doesn’t pull any punches when dealing with awkward topics like predatory behavior and how accepted it still is in modern society. Let’s get into it!

Plot Outline

Our main character hits nightclubs and acts drunk and vulnerable in front of strangers. When a man takes her home to try and take advantage, she teaches them a deadly lesson! Add to this, our heroin has put her life on hold to pursue this obsession due to a tragic event in her past. Will she be able to move forward with her life or will her path of vengeance and revenge lead to her demise?

Strong Lead Performance

Without a doubt, the success or failure of this movie falls squarely on the shoulders of our lead actress. It’s a small budget flick which is story driven and Carey Mulligan is pretty much in every scene. She absolutely delivers! Body gestures, facial expression and tone all play a part and she walks the path between deadly and likeable with ease. You are always routing for her even when the line between justice and revenge becomes blurred. Whether she’s feigning vulnerability or dishing about truth bombs, she is always convincing and it’s clear to see a passion brimming under the surface for the role she’s playing.

Storyline

Again a very strong area. The movie never feels dull and even when it’s changing gear to introduce a love story element, it’s always well written. The snappy dialogue adds instant chemistry between Carey Mulligan and Bo Burnham and I found myself enjoying their onscreen time together. The same can be said for the many short cameo appearances made by other stars in this movie. Alison Brie, Adam Brody, Christoper Mintz-Plasse and Connie Britton all have small but unforgettable roles within this piece. Alison Brie in particular puts in a wonderful performance. Each character drawn in helps to shine a spotlight on how men are given the benefit of the doubt in most cases and the movie makes the viewer feel as awkward as the on screen character when Carey is laying out some home truths. It really does turn everything on it’s side and forces the viewer to rethink a lot of what goes on in our culture.

Minor Weakness

As great as this movie is and a powerful as the leading performance is, I do feel something is missing. This is a minor gripe of mine and I do understand that the film makers chose a deliberate path here. But considering the movie makes heavy reference to a tragic event and our stars main driving force is based on her friend’s death, I do feel a scene or a flashback with Nina could have served as a very powerful reminder/motivator in the movie. Even to put a face to the name would be good for me however I understand that artistically the focus is on the aftermath and I respect that.

Ending

NO SPOILERS I promise! As much as I love this movie and can’t fault it’s story line, character development, acting or pacing……..there are issues with the ending. I for one didn’t like it at first but came to respect the decision reached upon reflection. And reflection is a good thing as this movie and this ending will leave you pondering long after the credits role. I do think viewers will be split as to whether the ending is good or not but of course I’m not willing to go any further than that. You’ll have to decide for yourself.

Overall

This is a great little movie. Never dull, always well acted and lingers in the mind after it ends. I loved it and regardless of whether you love/hate the ending, I would still recommend giving it a watch. Definitely one of the stronger movies released in 2020.

How did you feel about the movie? Was the ending good for you? What was your favorite movie of 2020? Let me know in the comments below!

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