How to Watch 'Promising Young Woman' Online: Stream the Film for Free on HBO Max. HBO Max is the only place to watch Promising Young Woman online

A young woman, traumatized by a tragic event in her past, seeks out vengeance against those who cross her path.

Director: Emerald Fennell

Writer: Emerald Fennell

Stars: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie 

They go down easy, these uncomfortable, blackly funny vigilante sequences — a little too easy, with their snappy sketches of men who bloviate about David Foster Wallace and serve kumquat liqueur and wear fedoras and tell women that they don’t need to wear all that makeup, that they’re more beautiful without it. Promising Young Woman is a candy overdose, stomachache of a movie, in ways that seem both intentional and not. At times, it’s a gleeful, if borderline glib, story about a woman wreaking her chosen form of vengeance — nonviolent, despite a few fake-outs otherwise — upon an endless supply of men who are condemned as much for their dickishness as their predatory intentions. But there’s a volcanic rage bubbling under this #banmen setup, creating a tension to the film that’s unsettling and unresolvable. It is, ultimately, a portrait of a woman alight with anger that might be righteous but that’s also utterly derailed and threatens to consume her existence — a fantasy of self-immolation.

Promising Young Woman is the directorial debut of actor and writer Emerald Fennell, who between playing Camilla on The Crown and showrunning Killing Eve season two, has been positioned as a possible next big thing. The film isn’t in danger of dissipating that hype. Fennell’s got a flair for coating incendiary subject matter with a sugar shell of hyperfemininity, an aesthetic sense that encompasses everything from her heroine’s enviable Easter-hued manicure to the cupcake-laden display at the coffee shop where she works. Cassie’s styling evokes an Instagram celeb-ready softness, the camera at one point gliding admiringly up her back to take in her high-waisted jeans, floral top, and tendril braid as she leans over the counter reading a book during a slow stretch. She’s not at all approachable, but she’s fluent in how to present herself as such in sometimes disturbing ways — like when she follows a makeup tutorial for “blow-job lips” and then strategically smears the result to make it look hours into a sloppy night. She weaponizes her blonde, white delicacy, though that blonde, white delicacy is also an unacknowledged quality enabling the film’s premise. Cassie repeatedly puts herself in the proximity of angry strangers who don’t appear inclined to do more than throw her out. 

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