Something has occurred to Cassie.
Cassie (Carey Mulligan) was a star pupil in medical college, however she is not anymore. She lives together with her dad and mom. She works at a espresso store. We first discover her virtually handed out at a bar alone, a simple mark for a man who scoops her up and takes her dwelling with him. But she will not be as she appears; this doesn’t end up the way in which he hopes it’ll. He does not know who she is. And he is probably not prepared.
That man is performed by Adam Brody, who first turned a star as good man Seth Cohen on the traditional teen cleaning soap The O.C. Other males Cassie encounters alongside the way in which are performed by Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who performed McLovin, one of many sexy however innocent dopes of Superbad; Chris Lowell, who performed Piz, the good-guy various to bad-guy Logan on Veronica Mars; and Max Greenfield, who performed ultimately redeemed jerk Schmidt on New Girl. This can’t be a coincidence. These are actors who’ve performed not merely good guys, however particular, archetypal good guys. It’s casting shorthand, harking back to Meet The Parents: “What should you went to fulfill your girlfriend’s dad and he was Robert De Niro?”
So why are all these guys right here? Cassie is so totally the main focus of the movie that any wandering away from her is jarring and disorienting. But author and director Emerald Fennell is saying one thing right here, too, about males. About good males and about males who suppose they’re good males, or good sufficient males. Exactly what story she’s telling about this lady and these males goes out and in of focus fairly deliberately, solely snapping into readability on the very finish. Promising Young Woman is a slippery, vexing piece that appears like one form of film, then one other form of film, then one other nonetheless. In the top, it is an incisive, fashionable … romcom-thriller? Dark comedy? Meditation on revenge? It definitely is without doubt one of the few genuinely shocking movies I’ve seen in 2020, with the gifted comic-actor-director-writer Bo Burnham exhibiting as much as play Ryan, whose look opens the query of what occurs when Cassie meets a man who may really be good, in any case.
Fennell has drenched the film in sparkles each figurative and literal. It has a Candyland aesthetic and dares to bop to an precise Paris Hilton tune. The story is wearing a mix of candy and stark pictures, pop artwork and photos of dingy locations the place it is not enjoyable to be. Cassie belongs on this difficult setting; she’s darkly and unsettlingly humorous in exchanges with a medical college dean performed by Connie Britton and an previous classmate performed by Alison Brie. How a lot she’s answerable for her scenario is fluid, she will be considering means forward, or she will be means behind, or she will be each.
Sometimes, Mulligan is in a romantic comedy with Burnham, which could be very properly executed and well-written, as pleasingly relaxed as different elements of the movie are tense and upsetting. Sometimes, she’s in one thing nearly like a coming-of-age story, guided by her well-meaning however considerably baffled dad and mom (Clancy Brown and Jennifer Coolidge, each taking part in a bit towards kind) and her loving espresso store boss, performed by Laverne Cox. Sometimes, sure, she is within the revenge thriller that the trailer and the advertising and marketing have instructed. But not on a regular basis.
Promising Young Woman is tough to speak about. It’s arduous to pin down. It should not be spoiled, and it should not even be too particularly characterised, provided that it shape-shifts so elegantly. Its surprises transcend plot, particularly to music selections which might be deliciously intelligent and surprising — and never within the now-flavorless “Toni Basil’s ‘Mickey,’ but it surely’s a dirge!” form of means. (I may offer you 5 years to guess the penultimate needle-drop within the physique of this film, and I doubt you’d even get shut.)
Deservedly, this Carey Mulligan efficiency will get loads of talking-up as this yr’s awards season begins to awaken and take no matter form it’ll take. She is expertly inscrutable when Cassie is at her most opaque, and she or he is transparently current when Cassie periodically exhibits the cracks in her resolve or the smudges in her masks of make-up. Her voice can drop from a nice, white-wine melody to the whiskey alto of a broad — the sort who shouldn’t be crossed. Much-seen early work in An Education and The Great Gatsby capitalized on Mulligan’s talent with variants of fragility and exaggerated representations of femininity. Here, she makes use of each these qualities and extra of the anger she’s proven in movies like Wildlife, the place she performed a perpetually seething mom and spouse.
It’s about all I can say; extra wouldn’t be truthful. More would rob you of the gut-punch this movie delivers because it strikes from temper to temper, unsteadily, teasing the query: Do you perceive who she is? Are you actually prepared?
Promising Young Woman opened in theaters on December 25. At this writing, no VOD date has been introduced.