April 14, 2024

MILLER’S GIRL (2024) – Teacher learns hard lesson from student!


Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Here is yet another engrossing small dialouge driven movie between a high school writing teacher and a unusually talented 18-year-old student. Jenna Ortega who is probably a familiar face for those who follow the Netflix series Wednesday takes on the lead role as the student Cairo, who basically stays alone in a big mansion as her rich parents are often away. In her solitude she buries herself in books and develops an exceptional talent in literature. The inevitable attraction and sparks happen when she joins her high school creative writing class and meets its enthusiastic teacher, Jonathan Miller. Miller is played by Martin Freeman whom many of us would remember fondly as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit series. Well, Martin Freeman is all “grown up” now and plays the quietly attractive teacher who finds himself inescapably more and more enticed by his ace student.

While the overall story may feel manipulative, the film’s strength lies with the captivating performances of its leads as well as their delivery of a script that pays tribute to its literature theme. While I would not accuse the script of being bombastic, it does have many moments of verbal dramatics that provides many highlights to an otherwise humdrum predictable plot. Jenna Ortega and Martin Freeman has the screen chemistry to pull this act off professionally and together they make the movie very watchable.

When the film begins, a voice over by Cairo amidst the calm quiet beauty of the Tennessee lush forests provides a misleading perception of a sweet, beautiful story to follow. This is still the case as the teacher student relationship initially unfolds innocently. Naturally things go the wrong way, and it becomes increasingly clear that this is not going to be a feel-good kind of movie. In fact, I might even say it is a feel-bad movie given how our main protagonists end up in the final act. Even though the premise may seem contrived, and a product of pure fiction, I am not surprised if such tales of affection does happen in real life and can only guess on the outcome in most cases. Miller’s Girl gives us a front row observer seat forcing us to confront the beauty of mutual adoration together with the uncomfortable. There is no clear-cut villain or victim here as both share elements of these stereotypes. Like any good human drama, Miller’s Girl will have you mulling over its details long after the credit roll has finished.

Finally, a word of credit to the film’s first-time writer, director, Jade Halley Bartlett for coming up with such a professionally looking and polished effort. There is nothing much on the internet when you google Jade’s name, but something tells me that this will soon change as she continues to write and make more movies for us to enjoy in the years to come and her work gets due recognition.

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