Reel Reviews | Miller’s Girl

by Tim Gordon

A well-meaning teacher’s initial infatuation with a high-achieving student takes a dark turn when he misunderstands her motivation in the erotic thriller, Miller’s Girl.

Cairo (Jenna Ortega) is an incredibly smart and gifted writer with aspirations to attend Yale upon graduation. She is attracted to her creative writing instructor Johnathan Miller (Martin Freeman). While she has her eyes on a much larger and elusive prize, Miler sees a talented student with potential that he can help nurture her educational pursuits.

Inspired by her sharp mind and thirst for learning, Miller shows Cairo special attention, even offering her special credit for her mid-term to push her to be the best student she can be. While he won’t admit it, Miller also likes that Cairo also emotionally feeds his ego, giving him the type of earnest attention he doesn’t get at home with his lascivious wife, Beatrice (Dagmara Dominczyk).

As the stakes increase, Cairo and her lesbian best friend, Winnie (Gideon Adlon), attempt to seduce both Miller and his colleague, the school’s gym teacher, Mr. Filmore (Bashir Salahuddin). Unfortunately, their actions will take them down a road of no return.

Directed and written by Jade Halley Bennett in her directorial debut, her script crackles with sexual energy and intrigue in this haunting coming-of-age cautionary tale. Freeman’s Miller is a man who has it all together at the onset of the film whose life, both professional and personal, begins to unravel at the seams as his prized student attempts to get closer to him.

Freeman and Ortega have great chemistry and it is refreshing to see him outside of the MCU and back to more traditional roles. Ortega (Wednesday, The Fallout) continues to shine and display that even at an early age, she has the type of acting skill that will take her career far, as long as she continues to select material that not just fits her sensibilities but also allows her to grow as an actor.

There is a reason that Bennett’s screenplay was on Hollywood’s Black List of unproduced screenplays. It is an interesting character study of the sexual dynamics between not just student/teacher but also adult/minor. It has been often said that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned but Miller’s Girl reveals just how the social politics of our time can wreak havoc on even the best of cinematic intentions or educational pursuits.