Variety – “Promising Young Woman,” a radical, genre-blending thriller […] introduces Fennell as both a distinct cinematic voice and a blunt social commentator. Mulligan stars as Cassie, a former medical student whose life has been derailed by the rape of her best friend, Nina. After dropping out of school to care for the broken Nina, who is never seen in the movie, Cassie is adrift and boiling over with rage. […] Drenched in neon pink and baby-blue hues, “Promising Young Woman” looks playful on its surface, but yanks the rug out from under viewers. Among other things, the film is a stunningly unapologetic indictment of men and the societal mechanisms that support rape culture.
“It’s a sort of beautifully wrapped candy, and when you eat it you realize it’s poisonous,” Mulligan says of the film.
Yet if these descriptions make “Promising Young Woman” sound dogmatic, or strident, it never is: Against all odds, given its subject matter, the movie is fun as hell. “Promising Young Woman” combines elements from revenge movies, romantic comedies and suspense thrillers — brewed together to create something volcanic.
Fennell, who’s 35, the same age as Mulligan, developed “Promising Young Woman” in 2017 with Margot Robbie’s company, LuckyChap Entertainment, which came on board as producer immediately after hearing her pitch: the movie’s cold open, in which Cassie surprises a potential rapist by dropping her drunken act. LuckyChap co-founder Josey McNamara says their reaction was “Whatever the rest of it is, we want to do it.”
If there was ever a thought that Robbie might play Cassie — yes, she was tempted. “This was a hard one to step aside for,” Robbie says. “But I felt like I would perhaps be the kind of Cassie people might expect, you know? And I feel like someone like Carey — we just haven’t seen her do this. She brings gravitas to it.”
[…] “Promising Young Woman” was scheduled for release in April, but — well, we all know what happened then. […] With this movie, the filmmakers, the studio and the punch-drunk Sundance premiere audience would unanimously agree that “Promising Young Woman” is a singular theatrical experience — especially with an ending that will get people talking. “This is something you want to see with other people,” Robbie says.
Add to that the film’s serious awards potential this year, and that’s twice the pressure on Focus to make the right choice. The distributor is rolling out the film in theaters on Christmas Day, with an accelerated streaming premiere targeted for January.
Why was it unlike anything you’d ever read, Carey?
It’s so lovely to read something and have no idea where it’s going, and you’re wrong-footed at every turn. Every time you decided something about somebody, it was ripped away from you and changed.
Carey, you’ve spoken before about being resistant to “wives and girlfriends” roles — how does this fit in your body of work?
“Promising Young Woman” exists in its own genre, and that role is so unique. I felt like definitely I wanted to be a part of something contemporary that was an original idea and not an adaptation, as much as I love those. I’ve been resistant to playing characters that are just the wife or the girlfriend, and I’ve avoided that fairly consistently so far. You can still understand a character and go with them on their journey even if you don’t approve of them or feel totally comfortable. I’m trying to find characters who are a little less straightforward, and you don’t get all the answers. I want to be constantly surprising the audience. I loved working with comedians. I feel so open to that kind of stuff, but, for me, it’s never struck the right tone. I want to be in a Richard Curtis film and live in a lovely apartment. I know Richard Curtis, and I say this to him all the time. He knows.
[…] What do you hope the audience walks away with from the movie?
Mulligan: It’s always such a hard one. Emerald said a couple of times it’s a beautifully wrapped candy, and when you eat it, you realize it’s poisonous. There is something so delicious about this. There’s nothing didactic about it; there’s nothing that’s telling anyone what to think. And there’s nothing boring about it. The reason I wanted to be in it is because I felt it was nothing I’d ever read or seen before. And I want people to feel that feeling that I felt when I read it: of I can’t believe this concoction can work. And what a thrill. It’s a magic trick, and you don’t see that very much these days. You kind of always understand how the magician’s done it. And with this, I just don’t think you do.