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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
A Promising Young Woman's Revenge
by Betty Jo Tucker

As I’ve mentioned before, revenge movies fascinate me. I think about them for the longest time after seeing each one. But I can’t help feeling guilty after watching a revenge film because I’m a pacifist who seems to find some kind of release in movies like these. A Promising Young Woman may be no exception, but this time revenge is served up in a dark comedy/drama/thriller starring a lovely actress, colorful visuals, and rape performed by a group of lecherous guys you would never suspect.  

Writer/director Emerald Fennell (TV’s Killing Eve) wisely chose Carey Mulligan for the key role here. Mulligan almost broke my heart in Drive with her understated but authentic portrayal of a woman torn between love and duty. And film critic Diana Saenger lauded her work in The Great Gatsby with the quote below.

“Mulligan could play a piece of pizza and win an Oscar. She melts every whim of Daisy’s topsy-turvy emotions into an engaging and alluring character. It’s hard to take your eyes off her.”

Also, for Mulligan’s stunning performance in Promising Young Woman, the San Diego Film Critics Society (SDFCS) recently voted her Best Lead Actress of 2020. This role required a lot from Mulligan. She had to make us understand her character’s outrageous behavior and still empathize with her actions. Plus, in certain scenes, she needed to project a happy, hopeful persona. And, most of all, she had to convince us of her dedication to her character’s vengeful mission. Mulligan gets an A+ in each of these tasks.             

She studied medicine -- but left.

What could have made her that bereft?

Revenge is now her major goal.

She feels it deep within her soul.


“Promising Young Woman” takes us

on a journey hard to discuss.

Disturbing in a lot of ways.

We’re left with sad thoughts many days.


It’s not for everyone to see.

But brave viewers should be happy.

And Carey Mulligan proves here

she might be actress of the year.

This unusual thriller follows a loyal friend with a strong longing for justice. She’s disappointed in people who could have helped reveal the truth regarding the crime that actually happened. However, don’t expect to see a typical revenge movie or anything like Jennifer Lopez’s Enough (which I found riveting). Promising Young Woman comes across as a very different type of revenge experience. According to writer/directed Fennell in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, “It’s a collision of different things---that’s how life feels to me.”

Fennell deserves congratulations for this stunning debut as a feature movie director. She’s already won accolades from critic organizations, including the San Diego Film Critics Society and the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS). Look for her name among the Academy Award nominations in March 2021.

(Released by Focus Features and rated “R” by MPAA.)    

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