Emerald Fennell is only 35, and she's already had quite the career. As an actress, she's had parts in several movies while also catching attention on television in Call the Midwife and, as Camilla Parker Bowles, in The Crown. As an author, she has written a few children's books and one adult novel. She took over as showrunner for the second season of Killing Eve. And now she has written, directed, and co-produced her first feature film, Promising Young Woman, earning Oscar nominations for all three of those duties. She is, to coin a phrase, a promising young woman (I can't be the first person to come up with that).
Promising Young Woman takes full advantage of Carey Mulligan in the title role. The supporting cast is excellent, featuring actors who, in many cases, have moved beyond "That Guy": Alison Brie, Laverne Cox, Alfred Molina, Connie Britton. (There are plenty of That Guys, too, like Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, and Molly Shannon.) Fennell shows a sure hand with these performers, many of whom shine in small parts that are nonetheless well-defined. And since Fennell not only directed the actors but wrote their dialogue, she deserves double credit.
Promising Young Woman also feels very much of its time, and it will be interesting to check it out in ten years to see if it feels like the remnants of a time long past, or if it retains its timeliness. It's a revenge tale, and I'll avoid spoilers and stop there, but Mulligan is ferocious while giving us a sense of what is going on inside her character. I was reminded of another revenge story that didn't share a lot with this film but which came to my mind anyway, the short, cancelled-too-soon TV series Sweet/Vicious.
Promising Young Woman makes you look forward to whatever Fennell comes up with next. #755 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don't They list of the top 1000 films of the 21st century.