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Interview Emerald Fennell Chats About Her Masterpiece Feature Debut ‘Promising Young Woman’

Emerald Fennell

All hail Emerald Fennell. The actress and filmmaker, just one movie in, is already a force to be reckoned with. One look at her film Promising Young Woman is evidence of that. The flick is brilliant, an absolute masterpiece right out of the gate for Fennell. As such, as soon as I saw the work, I knew I needed to talk to her and pick her brain a bit. Luckily, the folks at Focus Features were accommodating, leading to a Zoom about a week or so ago. Fennell could have been lovelier, taking my gushing in stride, as well as providing some phenomenal answers. What follows is a really solid interview, all in support of the year’s best film.

In my review (found here), I praised Fennell’s work like so: “Consider this little fact for a moment: this is Emerald Fennell‘s first film. She’s had prior success with Killing Eve, especially as a writer, but this is evidence that Fennell is a hell of a director as well. Her handling of pacing, tone, and knowing how to play with an audience’s expectations is downright extraordinary. In short order, Fennell has become a filmmaker not just worth watching out for, but worth worshipping. This is an all-timer of a first film. She’s clearly raging at the injustices of the world, but she’s doing it in a brilliantly creative manner.”

Moreover, the following rave for her writing and direction are found in the review: “Emerald Fennell rages against male privilege and rape culture here, but it’s also a devilishly clever takedown of the masculine ego. Guys always want to believe that they’re the “nice ones” who aren’t like the monsters you see on the news, but those monsters never think they’re monsters, either. Fennell deftly brings that out in the various scenarios Cassie inserts herself into. The writing may not always be the most subtle, but it’s not meant to be. Fennell’s points are hammered home with crystal clarity, while her direction gives ample style to the screenplay. Consider the tightrope she walks. How many filmmakers could make this subject matter, while having a soundtrack that makes clever use of a forgotten Paris Hilton bop, or a choice Britney Spears cut? Moreover, the instantly iconic sequence where Bo Burnham and Carey Mulligan sing along to Hilton’s “Stars Are Blind” in a pharmacy is a scene for the ages. Fennell pulls off in Promising Young Woman what few others would even have had the willingness to attempt.”

Now, enjoy my interview with Emerald Fennell. Minor spoilers towards the end, so tread lightly…

Be sure to check out Promising Young Woman, opening on Friday!

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Written by Joey Magidson

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