Emerald Fennell’s directorial debut is stunning from front to back, finding unprecedented strength in balancing heavy subject matter with a quick-witted entertaining pace. It’s the special “you have to watch it to see what I mean” kind of film, delivering a plot and premise that’s both wildly inventive and poignant. Fennell’s script speaks directly to sexual assault and the problematic narratives that perpetuate it, a brave feat that also manages to be viscerally entertaining. Along with being a deeply intricate, Christie-style thriller, Promising Young Woman’s core message will validate and honor victims while forcing men to look themselves in the mirror.
The film is also incredibly stylistic, most notably boasting a Britney Spears string cover at the film’s climax. There are a number of quirks to enjoy here, primarily the undeniable on screen chemistry from Carey Mulligan and Bo Burnham, but what will stick with audiences is how brilliantly Fennell is able to look sexual assault right in its ugly, sweaty face.