Jade Halley Bartlett’s feature debut, “Miller’s Girl,” foregrounds a troubling student-teacher relationship, exploring ethical implications pertaining to both sides as they cross several boundaries. The scope for volition is undercut by a hurtle toward unexpected consequences as the adolescent and the adult reckon with the damage they inflict on one another. However, the element of surprise is shunted by the film’s excessive dependence on worn-out templates devoid of incisive insights and truly shocking deliberations. What transpires has a drained familiarity to it that simultaneously tickles and strains to push the envelope, nevertheless bound up in predictable, slackening scenes.

Miller’s Girl (2024) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:

The film opens with the 18-year-old Cairo Sweet (Jenna Ortega), who introduces herself as living with considerable autonomy in the state of Tennessee. The only scrap of information the film lets us in on about her parents is that they are far away in India. She’s pretty much left on her own, aching to find a potential figure of interest, which she discovers in her English schoolteacher, Jonathan Miller ( Martin Freeman).

The only other friend she seems to have is Winnie (Gideon Adlon), who is bent on pursuing the coach, Boris (Bashir Salahuddin). When Cairo comes across her Yale application question that demands her to write an essay on her greatest achievement, she seeks Winnie’s advice, who nudges her towards a cheeky treatise on a student-teacher relationship.

Miller is positively surprised and thrilled when he discovers Cairo has read her book, the only one he’d ever published. His writing had been panned, since which he wholly pivoted to his teaching career. His wife, Beatrice (Dagmara Dominiczyk), is busier writing or perennially engaged on the phone with her agent. A distance has crept up in their marriage, her lack of interest in him nothing but glaringly apparent. When Miller sees a flicker of interest from Cairo, he is pulled towards it despite the risk involved.

Miller perceives in her traces of a writer with great skill and asks her to meet privately at his office, where the two surprise each other with having put the memory of the other’s words to memory. He promises her he can give her a lead on her midterms, provided she churns out a short story emulating the style of any author of her preference. He becomes besotted with her literary potential and intellectual intelligence, drifting dangerously close to her and eventually culminating in an act of sexual intimacy. This is stressed by way of allusion.

But Miller is jolted to his senses rather late when he receives her short story, which is a thick rip off of a similarly provocative teacher-student relationship. While it initially elicits his sexual fantasy, a realization dawns on him that he must terminate their relationship. He tells her rather brusquely little, knowing how it will impel her to resort to vengeance.

Miller’s Girl (2024) Movie Ending Explained:

Why Did Cairo Take Revenge?

Miller’s Girl (2024) Movie Review & Ending Explained
A still from “Miller’s Girl” (2024) Movie

Cairo turns extremely resentful of her rejection. As retribution, she sends a copy of the short story to the principal. Miller is asked in for investigation where, ultimately, things stack against his favor. He loses his job, and his wife leaves him when she discovers the extent of his relationship with Cairo. The film ends with a jump ahead by many years, with Miller paying a visit to Cairo at university. There’s a look of recognition of how one has changed the other’s lives, as well as a twinkling possibility of Miller using the account of the relationship as fodder for a new piece of writing. The film concludes with an acknowledgment of this.

Miller’s Girl (2024) Movie Review:

Jade Bartlett’s film is set up in the tone of a hushed whisper. Opening in a sleepy town in a Southern American state, there’s a mystery and a dark stealthiness with which the world is rendered. The design instantly shows flares of something illicit and provocative and a veritable act of transgression. You promptly realize the film has on its mind more than a couple of twisted, uncomfortable thoughts.

There’s little hiding from its web of deceit and plenty that unfolds surreptitiously, fuelling an underbelly of intrigue and playful, Machiavellian plotting. The veneer of innocence is ripped off early, and the viewer is left to confront a sprawl of restlessly knotty entanglements that promise a heady spark but come off as peculiarly tepid and turgidly stale. The need for innovative thrills in a narrative that calls back to tired tropes is replaced by a reliance on dry, uninspired turns that lack a fiery heat.

This is an unabashed literary thriller, reveling in the seductive power of words and sentences that can captivate and arrest someone in a vicelike grip. Obviously, the question of power play comes up quickly, only immanent in a film that is pivoted around such a relationship. How much leeway does the film grant to the adolescent and the adult in being rescued from the repercussions and the difference therein throws open the possibility for bracing, intense, and divisive conversations. This may sound like it is an achievement of the film. But Bartlett squanders it to a great degree and debatably pulls back on treating the teenage girls, Cairo and Winnie, as driven by a manipulative, misguided charge that takes unconvincing shifts and reveals the film’s inherent inconsistency.

Despite a sufficient fallback on common templates and its simple throughline, the writing is unsure and falters in its perception of the thorny relationship with uncompromising honesty and a character-driven thematic investigation. The film has a confused, muddled stance on the interstices between an agenda-whetting nasty tale and the personal coming-of-age texture that informs it. Winnie is built as someone who heavily cashes on her allure as she dispenses her pearls of wisdom to Cairo, which eventually triggers the plot into motion, but her moment of retracting is etched with an unbecoming, uncommitted meekness. The performances are routinely blundered by the weak script.

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Miller’s Girl (2024) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia, Letterboxd
The Cast of Miller’s Girl (2024) Movie: Martin Freeman, Jenna Ortega, Dagmara Domińczyk, Bashir Salahuddin, Gideon Adlon
Miller’s Girl (2024) Movie Genre: Comedy/Drama, Runtime: 1h 33m
Where to watch Miller's Girl

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