Promising Young Woman – A Review

The Best Revenge Story of 2021

Trigger warning: this article contains mentions of sexual assault and rape. 

What do you get when you mix a charming coffee shop, a med school dropout, and a killer soundtrack? A sexual assault revenge story, of course. Emerald Fennell brings her audience into a world of suspense and 90’s romcom nostalgia in her new movie “Promising Young Woman.” The main character, Cassie, played by Carrey Mulligan, is continuously confronted by the past.

The approach to demonstrate rape culture and the impact on both perpetrators and victims is like a punch in the face—one that Hollywood had not yet been able to provide correctly. However, dear readers, fear not, for the patriarchy works hard, but Emerald Fennell works harder. Breaking focus is impossible, for every moment of this movie is pulling the audience into this quest of righting the wrongs of the past, yet living in the present. The use of pop songs such as “Stars Are Blind” by Paris Hilton and soft, aesthetically pleasing moments made the whole movie eerie and surreal, yet the entire story seemed even more realistic than what the current content news networks have to share. Fennell mentioned her thought process regarding the soundtrack as a hand-in-hand process:  “I don’t write at all until the end when it’s done,” she says. “When it is I’ll transcribe it, and it takes not very long. The real bulk of the work is done entirely in my head, entirely with music.” 

This masterpiece might be a hard pill to swallow, but it is part of a necessary discussion regarding sexual assault. A critical and marvellous aspect of the main character is her credibility; she is no badass superwoman with the ability to crunch a man’s head with her thighs. As Fennell explained, “I think there would have been a temptation for other actors to maybe make Cassie kind of badass. It was important, certainly to me and to Carey, that she felt real; she felt like a traumatized person.” This, and Mulligan’s ability to show emotions with so little, was the perfect combination to create Cassie’s complex character. 

Overall, this movie is simultaneously both the best revenge fantasy a sexual assault survivor could have asked for and a mirror of the horror that so many people go through every single day. 

If you are interested in watching Promising Young Woman, here is where it is currently available on-demand: 


Blyth, Antonia. “’Promising Young Woman’: How Director Emerald Fennell & Carey Mulligan Concealed a Timely Truth Bomb Amid ’90s Nostalgia.” Deadline, Deadline, 13 Jan. 2021, 

By Florence Bergeron


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