Promising Young Woman UK release: where to watch the Oscar-nominated Emerald Fennell film staring Carey Mulligan
No UK release has been confirmed yet, but the film starring Carey Mulligan and Bo Burnham – which received five Oscar nominations – is worth waiting for
Women made history with the Oscar nominations earlier this week, with two female filmmakers recognised in the directing category, and Viola Davis becoming the first black woman with two Best Actress nominations.
British directorial debutant Emerald Fennell picked up a nod for Best Director, the latest in a long line of awards wins and nominations for her film Promising Young Woman, which walked away from the nominations ceremony with an impressive five nods.
The film has been scooping up critical praise for a couple of months now, and could very well walk away with the majority of those five awards, if not all of them, come the Oscars’ ceremony on 26 April.
But how can you watch it in the UK, and what is the film about?
Here is everything you need to know about it.
What is Promising Young Woman about?
Promising Young Woman is the kind of film where knowing as little as possible about it before your viewing will only add to your enjoyment, so we’ll give a brief overview here without throwing any plot points or spoilers away.
It follows the story of Cassie Thomas, a young woman living in Ohio who hatches a plan to teach the men of her city a lesson in respect and consent, as revenge for a sexual assault suffered by her best friend in their student days.
She hangs around bars and nightclubs, luring men in with an inebriated demeanour, before heading back to theirs and revealing a surprising secret at the last moment.
Then she meets Ryan, a customer at the coffee shop she works in, and one with whom she forms a burgeoning relationship.
Ryan tells Cassie that Al – the perpetrator of her friend’s assault – is getting married, and Cassie takes it upon herself to exact the ultimate revenge on him and his accomplices.
It’s a tack-sharp thriller for the post-#MeToo age, loaded with dark humour but also ensconced in subtext on consent, society’s attitude towards the victims of sexual assaults, and toxic masculinity.
Who stars in it?
Star of the show is British actress Carey Mulligan (The Dig, Wildlife), who plays Cassie in a performance that has been acclaimed as among the best of the year by critics; she has received a Best Actress nomination for her efforts.
American comedian, director and actor Bo Burnham (The Big Sick) stars opposite her as new boyfriend Ryan, who may hold a dark secret of his own, and Laverne Cox (Orange Is the New Black) as Cassie’s coffee shop colleague, Gail.
Alison Brie (GLOW) plays Madison McPhee, an acquaintance of Cassie’s who disputes the accounts of her best friend's traumatic experience, and Connie Britton (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) is Dean Elizabeth Walker, the head of the school faculty who dropped its investigation into the case.
Elsewhere on the cast, Clancy Brown (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs) and Jennifer Coolidge (Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans) play Cassie’s mother and father, and Chris Lowell (Up in the Air) plays Al.
Who directed it?
The film is directed by Emerald Fennell in her directorial debut; she also wrote the movie’s script.
As well as her work behind the camera, the 35-year old Fennell is also known for playing Camilla in The Crown, her starring role in the BBC period drama Call the Midwife and her work as writer and executive producer on series two of Killing Eve.
Fennel is one of two female filmmakers nominated in the directing category in 2021 – the other being Chloe Zhao for Nomadland – the sixth and seventh women to ever be nominated; she is also the first British woman to be nominated by the Academy for directing.
Responding to the Oscar nominations for her film, including her Best Director nod, Fennell said: “So proud and grateful to every amazing person who worked on this film. Never going to stop crying.”
In the past 92 ceremonies, only five women directors have made it on to the ballot and in 2020, no female directors were nominated. There has only ever been one woman to win the prize – Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker.
Mulligan has said Fennell’s vision for Promising Young Woman was “so unique and uncompromising”, and called her “one of the most talented filmmakers I’ve ever worked with.”
Laverne Cox has also praised her director, telling E! News she was a joy to work with, despite Fennell being “very pregnant” during shooting.
"She was just so funny,” she said. “She is hilarious and really easy going. She knows exactly what she wants. It all starts with the script. She wrote this incredible story and had a very clear vision about executing it and it all came together.”
How can I watch it?
The film received its world premiere over a year ago at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2020, and was originally due for a US cinema release in April of that year.
However, it was pulled from the schedules due to the closures of cinemas as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and wouldn’t see a theatrical release in America until Christmas Day 2020.
It was released on video on demand in the states on 15 January 2021, but as yet is unavailable to UK viewers.
It has not been added to any of the major streaming sites here at the time of writing, and does not currently have a planned cinema release date.
But you can rest assured that with the buzz it is getting through Awards Season, it will likely be made available to British film fans in the near future.
Whether that’s in cinemas, or the film comes to a platform like Netflix, remains to be seen, but we’ll update this article with more information when we know it.