Skip to main content

Promising Young Woman (2020) Movie Review

Hey you. I wrote this Review Just for You because I like you.I also like pizza.


MPAA Rating


Running Time

113 minutes


Emerald Fennell


Emerald Fennell

The savage black comedy/crime thriller/satire/drama/comedy/thriller/genre/period piece Promising Young Woman will make you think twice about taking a drunk woman home from a club and trying to take advantage of her, Chad…

Whatever, Brock Turner.

As you might know, the title Promising Young Woman is a reference to the convicted Stanford rapist Brock Turner. Despite being convicted of rape, he was called a “promising young man”. White privilege at its whitest and privilege…est. At the very least it’s good to know that he won’t just be d-bag Brock Turner, but forever be known as “convicted rapist Brock Turner”.

*slow cap*

*entire audience rises*

*the auditorium floor is rumbling with the cacophony of the crowd*

Guys, I’m going to have to start this review pretty soon. I’m going to have to ask you to take your seats.

*10 minutes later, the noise subsides*

Promising Young Synopsis

Promising Young Woman opens in a club with a bunch of douchey white guys drinking and being loud. You know that nothing good will come of this. Wait. There’s one black guy Paul (Sam Richardson).

We see a woman alone on a leather bench. She looks like she’s passed out. It’s not long before the drunk guys notice her. Drunk Jerry (Adam Brody – Ready or Not) approaches. She’s barely awake and her voice is slurring. She’s looking for her phone so she can get a ride home.

Good thing Jerry is such a nice guy. He’s willing to share a cab with her so she can get to her place safely. But…his apartment is just so close to where they are. What’s the harm in having one more drink?

The woman is barely coherent but at least she’s awake. Jerry is on top of her and is telling her how beautiful she is. Jerry is kissing her and it’s not long before Jerry crosses the line into something criminal.

Scroll to Continue

Until the woman speaks, and you realize she’s not drunk.

Cut to the woman leaving Jerry’s apartment complex with blood on her outfit. We’re guessing the blood isn’t hers. She’s being catcalled by construction workers. She gives them a look. They’re no longer catcalling her.

Opening credits roll. One potential sexual predator taken care of. The world is a better place.

We find out this woman’s name is Cassie (Carey Mulligan- Drive, The Great Gatsby). She has a notebook which she notches in glitter pen every time she comes back from the club with another guy, um, taken care of. She’s 30 and still lives with her parents (Jennifer Coolidge and Clancy Brown- The Mortuary Collection), who in no uncertain terms are trying to get her to leave the nest but don’t push too hard because they know she’s been through a lot.

Cassie works in a coffee shop and looks like she’s just going through the motions. We learn she was a very promising young woman who dropped out of medical school because something really bad happened.

She recently watched Joker.

She recently watched Joker.

It looks like she has no ambition unless her ambition is doing penile damage to would-be violators. Cassie is spinning her wheels exacting revenge on complete strangers. The feeling of retribution is short lived with no other purpose other than to inflict pain. Cassie is good at what she does, but there’s no long-term satisfaction.

One day a man named Ryan (Bo Burnham) walks into the shop. He recognizes Cassie from med school. He wonders what Cassie is doing working at a coffee shop when she was doing so well before she…

Ryan walks back his judgement and asks Cassie out because it turns out he really liked her back in school and never had the courage to talk to her. Now he’s a successful children’s surgeon who’s only killed a couple of children during surgery. 5 max. 16 if you count non-white children.

Understandably, Cassie is guarded but she does accept. She hasn’t been on a proper date in ages as most of her interactions with men in recent years have been violent.

Cassie can’t help but let her guard down because Ryan is such a nice guy.


Cassie’s got trauma she’s never really dealt with head on and being with Ryan has brought up a lot of stuff. Stuff she’s going to have to deal with and anybody who’s hurt her in the past will pay.


She recently watched The Passion of the Christ.

She recently watched The Passion of the Christ.

What Works With Promising Young Woman

  • Oscar nominated in 2009 for An Education, Carey Mulligan tears into a role that’s unlike any she’s ever done before as she’s usually in genteel dramas with her British accent. Though her American accent slips once in a while, Mulligan devours the screen as woman consumed with so much pain that the only way to deal with just a little of it is to perpetrate a lot of it on others, however deserving or not deserving they may be. Mulligan never seems less than human as she shows cracks in her armor and a shockingly warm vulnerable side. Frances McDormand will probably win another Oscar for Nomadland, so Mulligan and fans of this performance will have to be satisfied with a well-deserved nomination. A shot of Cassie holding a phone is heartbreaking.
  • Writer/director Emerald Fennell’s screenplay is filled with so many perfect scenes played by great character actors (Alison Brie, Laverne Cox- hell, even McLovin shines) in tiny but pivotal roles. For the most part, you’re never really sure where Promising is going and only falters when…
  • A scene between Cassie and “Dean Walker” (Connie Britton) is one of the best of 2020. It’s by turns funny and scary and never predictable.
  • You thought Juice Newton’s “Angel of the Morning” would now and forever be associated with Deadpool’s opening credits. Now it’s not.

What Doesn’t Work With Promising Young Woman

  • The final act is solid, but it doesn’t quite deliver on the promise of the first two. The ending is perfectly adequate, but you can’t help but feel just the tiniest bit let down.
She recently watched Bowling for Columbine. Because she's holding a bowl.

She recently watched Bowling for Columbine. Because she's holding a bowl.


Promising Young Woman is deserving of its place on Top 10 of 2020 lists. A violent acerbic entry into the #MeToo genre, this Woman deserves to be seen. And heard. Promise.

Really 4.5


Buy Promising Young Woman Here!

© 2021 Noel Penaflor

Related Articles