Movie Reviews
Miller's Girl (2024).

Miller’s Girl Review: Subtle Tension Meets Flat Execution

A sinister saga of artistry and amorous fascination, Jade Halley Bartlett‘s Miller’s Girl grapples with complexities but suffers from poor execution and an insufficient storyline. Introducing an enigmatic protagonist, Cairo Sweet (Jenna Ortega) – a prodigious young writer with an abundance of skill but little control, the film suggests immense potential that, unfortunately, falls short of brilliance.

Jonathan Miller (Martin Freeman) takes center stage as a deeply dedicated yet marginally dismissive college professor with a steadfast appreciation for the written word. It’s in Miller’s class that the student-teacher dyad initiates their inordinate relationship when he assigns a creative writing task.

The Good:

Bartlett artfully builds intrigue as the writing assignment unveils far more about their characters than a classroom exercise should. With murky undertones and questionable exchanges, a subtle tension threads through each scene. This potentially successful undertone, however, remains underdeveloped, leaving the audience longing for more compelling engagement.

One of the strong aspects of the movie lies in the riveting performances. Freeman presents his character’s dichotomy adeptly, blending sophistication and savagery while unmasking an ostensibly sophisticated character’s duplicitous layers.

Meanwhile, Ortega’s captivating performance is a shimmering beacon in this somber narrative. Portraying the captivating, insecure, young Cairo Sweet, she brings raw vulnerability and charisma to the role. Each wince, smirking glance, and written line eloquently evokes a nuanced depth in her character. It sometimes seems to eclipse the narrative itself.

The Bad:

Yet, despite the cast’s incredible performances, the movie remains ensnared in a circuitous narrative, ricocheting from contrived plot points and forceful, predictable twists. Where the film strives for profundity, it unfortunately tumbles into mediocrity, detracting from the thematic core it desperately seeks to underline.

Where Miller’s Girl seeks to shine in its tackling of inappropriate student-teacher relationships and manipulation, it suffers from lacking in substantial exploration. We catch fleeting glimpses of conflict and power-play, but it never completely resolves these narrative elements or significantly ties them into the movie’s climax.

Visually, the film seeks to invoke mystery with its bleak, monochromatic aesthetics. It also smartly uses locations to reflect its characters’ internal states, like the oppressively quiet classroom where the original project was assigned or Miller’s stark, rigid apartment that feels almost symbolic of his dual life.

Consequently, despite the strong acting prowess of Freeman and Ortega, Miller’s Girl is plagued by a nebulous plotline that squanders the subject matter’s potency. The intended darkness falls more into the grey area, never becoming as threatening or ominous as it needed to be.

In her portrayal of Cairo Sweet, Ortega has a bright future ahead of her. She brings considerable authenticity and soulfulness to the film. It’s an incredible feat for such a young actress, standing toe-to-toe with the established talent that is Martin Freeman. However, no matter how skillful their performances are, they can’t rectify the overall feel of a film that oscillates between lacklustre narrative strands and an underwhelming resolution.


Bartlett’s Miller’s Girl is not entirely a lost cause. It suggests Ortega’s film career and occasionally raises haunting questions about manipulation, artistry, and relationships. Nonetheless, the drama is hindered by disjointed pacing, lackluster execution, and failure to delve deep.

As a thriller drama, the tension and suspense should make up the spine of the film. Herein, Miller’s Girl loses its potential for it merely hovers around its key subjects instead of boldly tackling them. Overall, the film is mostly carried by the memorable performances from its lead stars. The question then becomes: How much does performance outweigh plot? In this instance, perhaps not enough.

Miller's Girl Review: Subtle Tension Meets Flat Execution
  • Acting - 7.5/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 7/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 5/10
  • Setting/Theme - 5/10
  • Watchability - 5/10
  • Rewatchability - 4/10
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