European Discovery Award 2021 – Prix FIPRESCI

Promising Young Woman

by Emerald Fennell

UK, USA, 2020, 113 min

Promising Young Woman

Read about the winning film:
Marta Balaga, Out of Nowhere
Frédéric Ponsard, Recognition of Traumas

Out of Nowhere

By Marta Balaga

Promising Young Woman came out of nowhere and it slapped people in the face, hard, like any good film always should. It was infuriating and enjoyable, sad, funny and so very weird, the kind of ride you take hoping you will eventually make it home in one piece. Especially after listening to Paris Hilton’s Stars Are Blind again, a shocking experience in itself, daring to relax a little and then swiftly having your heart broken.

I enjoyed many films last year, but few proved as surprising – and as odd – as Emerald Fennell’s feature debut – a director who took a very timely topic and way too many tragic stories, shared on daily basis, and still twisted it into something Takashi Miike could have delivered if he would suddenly start appreciating the glory of bubble-gum pink.

That’s why this award feels so fitting. It’s not a film that will satisfy everyone, that’s for sure, yet it’s testing new waters, playing around, all the while following Carey Mulligan’s delicious character: a med school dropout pretending to be drunk in bars just to see if yet another “nice guy” will come over to see if she is ok. Needless to say, they always do. And every time your heart breaks a little bit more. 

Marta Balaga


Emerald Fennell
Recognition of the Traumas that Affect Women

By Frédéric Ponsard

This is Emerald Fennell’s first feature film and it is already a great success, a film that leaves its mark, where violence, humour, mastery of direction and powerful dialogue collide, served by Carey Mulligan who proves, if proof were needed, that she is one of the best actresses of her generation.

The director juggles the codes of film noir, romantic comedy and horrific satire to better sharpen her ultra-feminist discourse, between Tarantino scenes and moments of emotion. In a word, she hits hard where it hurts.

Emerald Fennell wrote and directed Promising Young Woman, and last April she won the Oscar for Best Screenplay, a definite achievement considering that this is a very first film by a woman who is almost a novice in directing, and whose acting career – she plays Camilla Parker Bowles in the British series The Crown – is just beginning. The Academy Awards have made no mistake, and we can only acknowledge the incredible gift of this multi-talented artist.

There is no point in summarising the film for those who haven’t seen it yet, you’ll have all the more pleasure in discovering the superb mechanics of the script, black and implacable to the end.

It is in any case a film marked by the #MeToo seal, not the seal of infamy, but that of the reclamation and recognition of the traumas that affect women, who are regularly and very frequently the targets of sexual predators, or simply of the common male greed.

Promising Young Woman is in tune with the times, with a pop and sweet aesthetic and settings that hide the violence and the relationships of domination between men and women in a society where the law of the strongest is the rule.

Emerald Fennell completely reverses the perspective and the viewer’s point of view, a bit like Julia Ducournau does in Titanium, with the same female violence coming back like a boomerang on the men.

Behind the thriller lies an explosive pamphlet…

Frédéric Ponsard