Producers: Tom Rosenberg, Henry Winterstein,
Gary Lucchesi, Eric Karten, Richard Wright, Kevin Turen
Written by: Karen Moncrieff
Cast: Josh Brolin, Rose Byrne, Toni Collette,
Bruce Davison, James Franco, Marcia Gay Harden, Mary Beth Hurt,
Piper Laurie, Brittany Murphy, Giovanni Ribisi, Nick Searcy,
Mary Steenburgen, Kerry Washington
One has to give credit to The Dead Girl for giving employment
to so many excellent actresses, all of whom acquit themselves well.
I’ve missed a few movies lately, so this may be old news,
but for my money the eye-opener performance is that of Kerry
Washington, who also shines in The Last King Of Scotland.
The movie is a series of vignettes—The Stranger (Collette),
The Sister (Byrne), The Wife (Hurt),
The Mother (Harden), The Dead Girl (Murphy)—in
which Washington’s is the only unlabeled major female character.
To say more about Washington’s character would reveal one
of the few unexpected elements in the movie, so I’ll restrain
myself except to comment that she is nearly unrecognizable here.
Each segment explores a woman’s life and reveals her connection
to The Dead Girl. Director Moncrieff reserves post-Tarantino
non-linear storytelling for the last segment, which reveals how
The Dead Girl got dead. No-brainer that, otherwise where’s
This quiet, pain-filled, and painful film begins with The Stranger’s
discovery of the body. Naturally, The Stranger wouldn’t be
some robustly wholesome, hearty athlete (“…a hiker’s
chance discovery…”). No, she has a Dickensian home life
and a twisty psyche. Also naturally, The Sister turns out to have
experienced her share of tragedy; The Wife, we find, is an embittered
harridan whose religion is painted unflatteringly; The Mother will
be… well she was okay, actually; and The Dead Girl’s
trajectory will have been shaped by an adolescent trauma.
I can’t help saying how much I prefer Pedro Almodóvar’s
vastly better approach to this subject matter in Volver.
Here, it feels like Moncrieff trots out all the woes that can blight
women’s lives into one overstuffed story. Sadly, all these
things happen, but they’re too much for one movie. Instead
of emotional bathymetry we get the surface waters of a WE (Women’s
Entertainment) production (granted, with better acting and a far
Worth seeing for the performances, but it can wait for video.
Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.
Itís worth a full-price ticket.
Itís worth a matinee ticket.
Wait for video rental.
Check out the video from the library, if you must.
While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...