Promising Young Woman

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 3/16/21;
Universal;
Crime, Drama, Thriller, Dark Comedy;
Box Office $5.5 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for strong violence including sexual assault, language throughout, some sexual material and drug use.
Stars Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon, Sam Richardson, Max Greenfield, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Adam Brody.

Striking right at the core of gender relations brought to the fore by the #MeToo movement, Promising Young Woman is a relentless revenge thriller that expertly walks a line between dark comedy, tragedy and drama led by a beautifully nuanced performance from Carey Mulligan, who just received a Best Actress Oscar nomination for it.

Emerald Fennell (who served as showrunner on “Killing Eve” and plays Camilla on “The Crown”) received three well-deserved Academy Award nominations for her directorial debut (Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay) for this story than broaches a wrenching subject while keeping the audience laughing and gasping on a roller coaster journey through one woman’s pathos and secret fury. (The film also received an Oscar nomination for Best Film Editing for a total of five noms.)

Promising Young Woman follows Cassie (Mulligan), a former medical student who was headed for success until a mysterious event abruptly derailed her future. By day a young woman going nowhere as a barista, by night Cassie lives a secret double life. An unexpected encounter with an old classmate gives her a chance to avenge the wrongs of the past.

At turns a horror story, a romantic comedy and a tragedy, the film plays with familiar tropes in the narrative and film history of male-female relations and power dynamics. With a hot score and vibrant, eye-popping art direction, set design, costumes and makeup, it’s a truly unique film that defies categorization. Dark comedy elements provide levity, but the film also takes a deep dive into the characters’ multiple facets. As noted in the bonus features, the film portrays men who think of themselves as “good guys,” while doing morally questionable, even horrible things. Then there’s Cassie, an engaging, attractive and smart avenging angel/devil who leaves emotional turmoil in her wake. This tension between the light and dark side of humanity allows the actors to explore a layer cake of emotions and elicits some truly great performances.

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Bonus features include three featurettes: “A Promising Vision,” in which Fennell discusses her inspirations for creating the film; “Two-Sided Transformation,” a look at Mulligan in the role of Cassie and how filmmakers used wardrobe, hair and makeup to express the balance between light and dark; and “Balancing Act,” in which cast members discuss their unexpected reactions to the careful balance of levity and tragedy in Fennell’s take on female revenge.

There’s also a commentary with Fennell, who provides a detailed explanation of key elements in the film, including set design, framing, and makeup and costume choices. As do the best commentaries, Fennell’s leaves viewers with a greater appreciation for the artistry and thought process behind this complicated film and makes a second pass through Promising Young Woman with commentary well worth the time.

‘Promising Young Woman’ Available Now Digitally, on Disc March 16

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment will release Golden Globe nominee Promising Young Woman on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and on demand March 16. It is available now via digital sellthrough.

Promising Young Woman stars Carey Mulligan as Cassie, who everyone pegged for great things until a mysterious event abruptly derailed her future. But nothing in Cassie’s life is what it appears to be: She’s wickedly smart, tantalizingly cunning, and she’s living a secret double life by night. Now, an unexpected encounter is about to give Cassie a chance to avenge the wrongs of the past.

The cast also includes Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon, Sam Richardson, Max Greenfield, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Adam Brody.

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Written and directed by Emerald Fennell (who served as showrunner on “Killing Eve” and plays Camilla on “The Crown”), Promising Young Woman earned $5.2 million in a limited theatrical run. The film has earned a multitude of Awards recognition, including recent Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture — Drama, Best Actress for Mulligan, and Best Director and Best Screenplay for Fennell.

Home video bonus features include a commentary with Fennell; the featurette “A Promising Vision,” in which Fennell discusses her inspirations for creating the film; the featurette “Two-Sided Transformation,” a look at Mulligan in the role of Cassie and how filmmakers used wardrobe, hair and makeup to express the balance between light and dark; and the featurette “Balancing Act,” in which cast members discuss their unexpected reactions to the careful balance of levity and tragedy in Fennell’s take on female revenge.

The Crown: Season Four

STREAMING REVIEW:

Netflix;
Drama;
Not rated.
Stars Olivia Colman, Tobias Menzies, Helena Bonham Carter, Gillian Anderson, Josh O’Connor, Emma Corrin, Marion Bailey, Erin Doherty, Stephen Boxer, Emerald Fennell.

The acclaimed series about the British monarchy takes a turn in its fourth season to focus on the women who defined the United Kingdom in the 1980s.

With Elizabeth II (Olivia Colman) having served as Queen for several decades, the series shifts further away from dealing with her adjusting to the position, and puts more emphasis on examining the appropriateness of a monarchy in modern society, and the impact that open question has on Elizabeth’s growing family.

In particular, the season introduces Princess Diana (Emma Corrin) and takes a hard look behind the scenes of her marriage to Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor), which famously ended in divorce before her tragic death in a car accident in 1997.

Diana is depicted as a bright-eyed teenager looking for a fairy tale life and getting a lot more than she expected, with Charles marrying her only out of convenience to satisfy the pressures of his hereditary duties. Much to the chagrin of his family, he remains in a discreet relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles (Emerald Fennell), who the previous season had been deemed unsuitable as a match for the future king.

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Meanwhile, the other major thread of the season concerns the rise of Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson) as prime minister, who vows to reshape the country from the bottom up. This leads to a bit of a clash of personalities with the Queen, who doesn’t always see eye-to-eye with her policies — a disagreement that eventually spills out into the press in a breach of protocol that proves scandalous. Thatcher, in turn, finds the royal family to be a bit boorish and out of touch with her perception of the common British citizen. As they are roughly the same age, the season takes the obvious, but effective, move of exploring their parallel tracks toward leadership — working class republicanism versus aristocratic duty.

The season also hits upon some of the other historical milestones of the 1980s, such as the Falklands War, and even finds time for a welcome cameo from some familiar faces from earlier seasons. One fascinating detour involves focusing an episode on the story of Michael Fagan, an unemployed commoner who managed to break into Buckingham Palace in 1982 and managed to have a conversation with the Queen in her private bedroom.

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With this latest batch of 10 episodes, the series maintains its usually high marks for writing and acting, and while the veracity of certain off-the-record events might be open to scrutiny, the season will likely be up for several awards when the time comes.