The darkly comedic thriller Miller’s Girl premiered at the Palm Springs Film Festival at the beginning of the month before receiving a worldwide theatrical release. Led by rising star Jenna Ortega and Emmy winner Martin Freeman, the film marks writer-director Jade Halley Bartlett’s full-feature debut.
BEST MOVIES ON
Miller’s Girl review
This sordid Gothic tale of Tennessee lust opens with Cairo Sweet’s (Jenna Ortega) voiceovers as she ponders about adulthood after turning 18. The daughter of two ultra-rich and neglectful lawyers, Cairo lives mostly alone in a giant mansion where she spends her time reading and writing.
She’s a high school senior with only one friend in the hyper-sexual Winnie (Gideon Adlon), with aspirations to study at a prestigious university, but doesn’t know how to set herself apart in her admissions essay.
Cairo’s literature professor, Jonathan Miller (Martin Freeman), is a married middle-aged failed writer. Jonathan’s wife, Beatrice (Dagmara Domińczyk), is a successful career woman who drinks too much and never misses an opportunity to show him how little she thinks of him. Like Cairo, he only has one friend in his fellow teacher, Boris (Bashir Salahuddin).
So, naturally, the man becomes enchanted with his new student and her raw talent for the written word. Under the guise of mentoring young Cairo, Jonathan spends more time with her and develops a highly inappropriate attraction. For her part, Cairo tries her best to alleviate her “poor little rich girl” boredom by seducing her teacher.
Things take a turn when Jonathan gives Cairo the chance of a head-start on a creative writing assignment, asking her to pen down a story in the style of her favorite author. Ever the edgy teenager, Cairo chooses erotic writer Henry Miller as inspiration, hoping to further enthrall Jonathan into her downward spiral of revenge and seduction.
Visually, Miller’s Girl is an aesthetically pleasing feature. From the outfits to the long shots of Jenna Ortega alone in her mansion, the film boasts stunning cinematography. While it makes no sense to hardly see any more students of fellow teachers at the school, isolating the leads from most of the world works well in showing how loneliness drew them to one another.
For a movie about such a controversial topic, Jade Halley Bartlett’s debut feature is more tame than exciting. We get far too much unbelievable yet highly pompous verbiage that never scratches beneath the surface of its narrative. But the main issue with this title is how boring it is. Nothing happens and despite the inappropriate dialogue, the ending is as inconsequnecial as Jonathan’s permanently empty classroom.
Miller’s Girl takes the evil teen seductress trope that should have died in the 90s with the likes of Wild Things and Cruel Intentions and turns it into a snoozefest. Unlike the aforementioned thrillers, this one is not fun nor sexy enough to justify its existance. Instead, we’re left with a pathetic tale about an unhappy teacher incapable of setting boundaries with a provocative student.
There’s no denying Jenna Ortega and Martin Freeman are two acting powerhouses. However, they lack the level of inappropriate chemistry required to make their character’s attraction remotely believable.
Overall, Miller’s Girl is a rather forgettable melodrama that never quite hits the mark. While the premise was promising, the actual feature is far from exciting and boasts a very unsatisfying ending.
Where can you watch Miller’s Girl in the UAE?
Miller’s Girl is currently playing in cinemas across the UAE, such as VOX Cinema