Parents' Guide to

Promising Young Woman

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Dark, powerful, mature revenge comedy attacks rape culture.

Movie R 2020 113 minutes
Promising Young Woman Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 12 parent reviews

age 17+

A Masterpiece

The reason I rate this film for 17+ is not for any sexual content or language, but for one very disturbing scene towards the end of the film. Every family knows their own kid -- so you decide. For me, I was glad that my 18 year-old daughter just happened to leave the room before that point. However, I do highly recommend that every college-bound woman or man watch this film. It's exquisite, unique, clever, heartbreaking, cathartic (at times), and tremendously powerful. I hope it wins every award out there.
age 15+

A film that keeps you thinking...

Mesmerizing...from beginning to end. Mulligan is very convincing and I was fully invested in her journey and trusted her instincts as she maneuvered the patriarchal spaces that she took on as a vigilante. The film excels in depicting the multi-levels of patriarchy that serve as gatekeepers in multiple ways that permeate people's lives. Parts that are subtle and of course those that are overt. Everyone lives up to the material, strong performance from Molina and Burnham and firm direction of Fennell as she brings all of the components of this complex narrative to its hopeful (within the limits that patriarchy allows) conclusion. Definitely a film that keeps you thinking.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (12 ):
Kids say (17 ):

Emerald Fennell's razor-sharp feature writing and directing debut could do for sexual assault what Fatal Attraction did with cheating: Scare men into thinking twice. Fennell flawlessly improves on Death Wish and I Spit on Your Grave-type films. Cassandra is too smart to engage in straight-up, eye-for-an-eye revenge; instead, she concocts a far more creative approach that makes the perpetrators -- and maybe viewers -- realize that they're not as nice as they think they are. Cassandra's method of forced empathy has the potential to have more impact and be more influential for creating change than a basketful of documentaries or Dateline episodes.

Promising Young Woman is effective because it's phenomenally entertaining. It's original, shrewd, unexpected, and smashingly executed. Funny, too. The humor isn't silly or slapstick, but acerbic, biting, and wicked. There's not an off note on any element of the filmmaking. And Mulligan's flawless performance as a woman who finds an odd sense of purpose through tragedy leads us to wonder: Is Cassie deeply flawed? Or is she the only one who truly sees clearly?

Movie Details

  • In theaters: December 25, 2020
  • On DVD or streaming: March 16, 2021
  • Cast: Carey Mulligan , Bo Burnham , Laverne Cox
  • Director: Emerald Fennell
  • Inclusion Information: Female directors, Female actors, Transgender actors, Black actors
  • Studio: Focus Features
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Run time: 113 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: strong violence including sexual assault, language throughout, some sexual material and drug use
  • Award: Academy Award
  • Last updated: September 30, 2023

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