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Miller’s Girl Review

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Despite starring a powerhouse in Jenna Ortega, Miller’s Girl doesn’t manage to be anything other than an “okay” erotic thriller.

PLOTA creative writing assignment produces complex results between an experienced teacher and a talented student.

REVIEW: I wasn’t sure what to make of Miller’s GirlWhen I first heard about it, I was intrigued. The idea of a teacher falling for a student isn’t exactly new, but there was a mystery present that I appreciated. And it’s honestly, given that subject matter, a very tough film to talk about. The topic is taboo and won’t be for everyone, and the filmmakers really take advantage of that uncomfortably. Technically, the film is gorgeously filmed and takes full advantage of its beautiful set. Plus, erotic thrillers are my favorite genre. This one is as obvious and has no teeth as it can be.

There’s clearly something not quite right about Jenna Ortega‘s Cairo right from the start. She has an intellectual way to dissect the world, and is wise beyond age. When Jonathan Miller (Martin Freeman) sees she’s a fan of his writing, the start of a complicated relationship begins. The film does a good job at establishing why he would entertain the idea, given his sombre relationship with his wife. The two leads of Miller’s GirlThe dialogue represents two writers with a wide vocabulary. This could turn some people off but I enjoyed it. These films are often the same, with characters repeating the same dialogue. This added a little bit more to the conversation.

But the execution is not very good after the first act. I was impressed by the attention to detail that went into how this relationship began. Everything else is so sloppy when things start falling apart that it feels as if the screenwriter was just trying to hurry their story. It doesn’t help that there’s no single character to root for. All of these people are vile and unworthy to be pity. There is something very interesting that happens when Gideon Adlon‘s Winnie, Cairo’s best friend and confidant, but it clashes with the version we’ve seen of her earlier on. If anything, there’s an interesting film told from her perspective, but instead, she’s just an ancillary character.

Ortega is fantastic as Cairo Sweet, but it almost feels like she was miscast. She has some moments when she is at her best, but the character’s motivations are inconsistent. It feels like they’re letting Ortega be Ortega during the first half, and then they were reminded of the type of film they were making and completely shifted her tone. It didn’t work for me in any way. And it doesn’t help that the accents can be a bit all over the place. Ortega’s accent can be very southern at times, and other times it is her natural voice. Martin Freeman is the same, he constantly switches between a full Southern accent and a Middle American one. I’m pretty sure his natural British accent slipped through a few other times. I’m sure some of this comes from both being huge stars directed by a first-timer, but it’s very distracting.

Gideon Adlon as Winnie and Jenna Ortega as Cairo Sweet in Miller’s Girl. Photo Credit: Zac Popik

I’m sure most can judge this by the trailer, but the film is constantly “on the nose” in its approach. High schoolers deliver monologues that are full of wisdom, but then explode with emotion the next moment. It’s a very inconsistent experience. Then there’s the friendship between Cairo and Winnie, which is about as toxic as you can imagine. It’s hard to even call these people friends, and sets the film in a strange hyperreality. Bashir Salahuddin appears as one of Mr. Miller’s friends and coworkers, and while I like the actor, his subplot is a waste. They wanted a parallel of what happens when you don’t cross the line, but the message still appears weird.

In the end Miller’s Girl didn’t have much to say. It sounds like a writer had a crush and wrote a revenge fantasia about a teacher. The conclusion isn’t particularly satisfying, and it really feels like they have some kind of gross teenage fantasy. The film is a sex-fest that enjoys the tension. This will probably be remembered as the movie where Jenna Ortega has a fling with a woman. But hey, it’s better than not being remembered at all.

Martin Freeman as Jonathan Miller and Jenna Ortega as Cairo Sweet in Miller’s Girl. Photo Credit: Zac Popik



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