• by Wes Singleton

Promising Young Woman - A-

Rated R, 105 minutes

The winning, entertaining and gleefully dark romantic dramedy “Promising Young Woman" is one of the best films of the year and may come as a surprise given its revenge-centered premise. Directed and written by "Killing Eve" producer Emerald Fennell in an auspicious feature debut, it's in the same universe as "Heathers," but maybe with a slightly more sociopathic bent.

Everyone said Cassie (Carey Mulligan) was a promising young woman in medical school until a mysterious event abruptly derailed her future. Nothing in Cassie's life is what it appears to be and while smart, she is now 30 and working at a coffee shop run by ail (Laverne Cox), has few real friends and lives at home with her unsuspecting parents (Jennifer Coolidge and Clancy Brown). However, an unexpected encounter with former medical school colleague Ryan (Bo Burnham) is about to give Cassie a chance to right the wrongs from the past.

Immensely fun, thought-provoking and superbly acted by a witty Mulligan in a career-best, award-worthy turn, Fennell's assured direction and script make "Promising Young Woman" a satisfying affair. It's largely due to some nice, unpredictable twists and turns, particularly in the mildly shocking last act, which has a few things you won't see coming. It's delightfully dark and provides some surprises for what could've been another tiresome revenge flick.

"Promising Young Woman" is ably held together by Mulligan, and Burnham and particularly "Orange is the New Black's" Cox get in some good one-liners. They're ably supported by many cameos and stellar small roles, includes Alison Brie as an old friend with some important information; "Nashville's" Connie Britton as a corrupt university dean; Molly Shannon as a friend's wise mother; Alfred Molina as a slimy professor caught up in the proceedings, and "Superbad's" Christopher Mintz-Plasse in a memorable cameo as one of Cassie's many unknowing male victims who falls under her wrath.

"Promising Young Woman" is occasionally uneven and like many films in this genre, a little too self-aware at time, but it's an astonishing feature debut for Fennell, which gives her career a little promise of its own. One of the best of the year and dark, enjoyable entertainment done the right way, "Promising Young Woman" is worth your time.