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Even before the pandemic, finding someone to date can be a scary experience, as you have no idea what someone is about until you truly get to know them. Even then, there could more that you still don’t know or don’t want to know. Then there’s the times when things really go wrong on these outings, such as rape, and that’s the subject British actress Emerald Fennell makes her directorial debut on with Promising Young Woman. It’s quite possibly one of the best “long game” revenge films I’ve seen, and also shines a light on a dark subject most are all too familiar with.
Carey Mulligan gives a great performance as Cassie, a young woman working as coffee barista who carries a dark past involving her best friend Nina getting raped back in their medical school days which led to her killing herself. If that wasn’t bad enough, everyone involved got away clean, from the lawyers and dean brushing it to side, to the guys that did it.
Now Cassie uses her position at the coffee shop to find those responsible and make them suffer for what they did. Now you would think that would mean killing them or torturing them, but instead she lures them in and makes them think she’s drunk so they’ll try to take advantage of her, only to learn that she’s sober right when they make their move. She then makes them confront their lust and feel bad about themselves by rubbing in how sick and twisted they are.
It’s a little anticlimactic to be sure, and some of the things she says and does gives the film a dark humor vibe, such as describing these experiences and writing down her victories in a diary, but it works out nicely to create a dark, twisted universe you’ll soon grow invested in.
Things seem to go well for Cassie as she works her way down her revenge list, but as she goes down this dark path, the work for getting payback becomes more difficult for both her and those around her, which is where the film really shines. It focuses on how far someone would go to get revenge for a friend while also showing what it costs you in return.
Then you have problems arise such as one guy named Ryan (Bo Burnham in a surprising dramatic role) who actually falls in love with Cassie, but may be involved with Nina’s rapists. Watching issues such as these and others can be hard as anything dealing with rape and the dark thoughts that run through people’s minds can be a uncomfortable experience. Despite this, the way Emerald Fennell handles them is very well done, right up to the awesome long game ending.
I was sent the Blu-ray for review and everything looks and sounds great, as the high-definition visuals make the colorful shots pop, which makes me wonder how great they would look in 4K with HDR color. The Dolby HD audio is also well done and packs a punch with its dialogue and mild action/suspense scenes that take advantage of it whenever possible.
I was hoping the special features would be as amazing as the film, but sadly outside of the audio commentary with director Emerald Fennell, there’s not much outside of small, behind the scenes clips and interviews. In the commentary, Fennell discusses what led her to writing and directing the film, as well as production details, working with the actors, and loads more. “A Promising Vision” has the cast and crew going into the story, “Two-Sided Transformation” has them discussing the characters, and “Balancing Act” has them talking about how they had to balance the dark humor and dramatic elements of the movie.
Promising Young Woman is one of the most unique movies you’ll find out there, as it does a great job of balancing its dark subject matter with equally dark humor and dramatic moments to craft something different. It would’ve been nice to have some better extras, but its a fantastic film as is the cast and director, making this film a promising Blu-ray for your collection.