Even before its four Golden Globe nominations – for drama, screenplay, director and actress – Promising Young Woman was already being talked up as an award winner. The directorial debut of Emerald Fennell, showrunner on Season 2 of Killing Eve and recently seen as Camilla Parker-Bowles in The Crown, it’s a highly original and provocative film that combines serious issues with black comedy and a good deal of style.
While much of the focus has been on the lead performance by Carey Mulligan in a role that’s in stark contrast with her recent outing in The Dig, the film is just as remarkable for its aesthetics, which have been compared with both Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive and the high-kitsch art of Jeff Koons. Making the most of its relatively small budget, it was shot in Los Angeles while disguising this most familiar of movie locations as a typical town in the USA.
Production designer Michael Perry created a brightly coloured world of pinks and blues with a lot of neon, some of it on set but much filmed on location. Make Me Coffee, the coffee shop where Cassie (Mulligan) works, was constructed from scratch but we also visit several real places across the sprawl of LA, from the Everest diner in Altadena to the north east and The Blue Star on East 15th Street in Downtown. Cassie’s home is also in the city, chosen by Perry as being ‘trapped in time’, while outdoor scenes include a striking shot of her at the State Street underpass in East LA.
One highlight sees Cassie and boyfriend Ryan Cooper (Bo Burnham) in a pharmacy in Ventura to the north west, singing Paris Hilton’s Stars Are Blind along the aisles. Here, the combination of candy colours and consumerism in an all-American everyday setting reaches a crescendo. Like the film, it certainly makes an impression.
‘Promising Young Woman’ is scheduled for release soon
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