After much anticipation, Emerald Fennell’s directorial debut, “Promising Young Woman,” makes its way to video on demand Friday. After premiering in theaters Christmas Day, the film will now be available in your own home.
Fennell’s whip-crack wit is the engine that powers this brash middle-finger directed at the casual misogyny of rape culture, but the performance of leading lady Carey Mulligan is the grounded, soulful center of the fable, fleshing out the tragedy in this tragicomic tale. Mulligan steps into this modern role after a series of period pieces, attacking it with a ferocity and specificity that it is no surprise to anyone who has followed her career.
At 35, she has an Oscar nomination and BAFTA under her belt, and with the swath of critics’ groups awards she’s picked up for “Promising Young Woman,” it seems there’s more hardware in her near future. Mulligan always delivers complex and singular performances, so make it a Carey Mulligan Tribute weekend with a selection of her best films to accompany “Promising Young Woman.”
Mulligan’s breakout performance was her star turn in Lone Scherfig’s 2009 film, “An Education,” for which she earned her Oscar nom and BAFTA prize. Mulligan stars as Jenny in the early ’60s-set film, a bright English schoolgirl who is seduced by an older man, played by Peter Sarsgaard. The film was also nominated for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay Oscars. Stream it (with ads) on IMDb TV, or rent $2.99 on Amazon, YouTube, Vudu.
While most remember Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2011 film “Drive” for Ryan Gosling’s taciturn performance (and jacket), Mulligan provided the heart and motivation for Gosling’s Driver character, as the Driver’s neighbor, Irene, a vulnerable young mother endangered by her criminal husband’s violent past. Stream (with ads) on IMDb TV, or rent $2.99 on Amazon, YouTube and Vudu, and turn up that cool Cliff Martinez score.
Mulligan took on the iconic Bathsheba role made famous by Julie Christie in Thomas Vinterberg’s 2015 remake of “Far from the Madding Crowd.” This swoony 19th century romantic drama set in the English countryside follows the independent and headstrong Bathsheba in her courtships with three different men (played by Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen and Tom Sturridge). Rent for $3.99 on Amazon, YouTube, Vudu, Redbox.
In 2015, Mulligan also starred as a laundry worker who becomes involved in the British suffragette movement of the early 20th century. “Suffragette,” directed by Sarah Gavron, is a stark, bleak look at the fight for the women’s right to vote, centered around Mulligan’s character Maud’s horrendous working conditions and her subsequent radicalization and activism. Watch it on Netflix or rent it for $3.99 on iTunes, Amazon, YouTube, Redbox.
Dee Rees’ powerful 2017 film “Mudbound” featured Mulligan in the ensemble cast about two Mississippi families, white and black, and their uneasy and sometimes violent coexistence, set against the backdrop of World War II. Watch it on Netflix.
Mulligan’s last starring film role before “Promising Young Woman” was in Paul Dano’s 2018 directorial debut, “Wildlife,” opposite Jake Gyllenhaal. Adapted from a 1990 Richard Ford novel, set in 1960 Montana, Mulligan stars as Jeannette, a woman in a marriage strained by financial woes. When her husband takes off to fight forest fires, she struggles to parent her young son, in this quiet, devastating drama. Watch it on Netflix or rent it for $2.99 on iTunes or Vudu.