Movie review: Promising Young Woman
For the first time in the 93-year history of the Oscars, two visionary women - Nomadland's Chloe Zhao and Promising Young Woman's Emerald Fennell - will compete in the Best Director race that has long been a male stronghold.
That is reason enough to catch both when they open in cinemas today, which are also going head to head in categories like Best Picture and Best Actress.
Teetering the thin line between hilarity and horror, Promising Young Woman is British actress Fennell's fearless first stab at writing, directing and producing a feature film, after being the showrunner for the second season of hit series Killing Eve.
And it is one killer debut, matched by a wicked lead performance by Carey Mulligan in her darkest role to date.
The less revealed about this provocative and whip-smart #MeToo revenge thriller/black comedy, the better - because the twists and turns really cut deep, and the most pleasure will be derived if you are allowed to fully feel the pain.
Cassie (Mulligan) was a promising young woman, until a tragic event abruptly derails her future and transforms her into a medical school dropout trapped in a self-destructive cycle.
After a chance meeting with a former classmate (Bo Burnham) leads her to develop feelings for him, she is unexpectedly pulled back into the trauma that forever changed her life.
Promising Young Woman is a bold, genre-bending trip into the mind of a very broken individual, who embarks on a costly mission to settle old scores and right the wrongs from her past.
But it is also rooted (mostly) in real life.
So don't expect Kill Bill, Atomic Blonde, Red Sparrow, Salt, Ava or any other Nikita wannabes - there are no guns, samurai swords, fisticuffs or severed arteries.
Instead, we get a no-holds-barred expose on the toxic, sexist and abusive culture we currently live in, of gender politics and sexual violence and mental trauma, populated with Brock Turners and Brett Kavanaughs.
Cassie is such a richly-written character, you naturally root for her ultimate triumph.
But the ending is such a shock to the system, featuring a sequence so brutally tough to watch, it may break you. Here, revenge is sweet, but the bitterness that comes with it is just too hard to swallow.
PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN (NC16)