Entertainment Weekly - 01/19/2007
"[E]nthralling....[With] scenes that are hushed and jagged, shot with murky natural light yet charged with unstable emotion." -- Grade: A-
Sight and Sound - 03/01/2008
"[T]his admittedly grim movie has a sure feel for broken-down lives on the rough side of town -- and the compassion to look for the kind of connections that might restore them."
Total Film - 11/01/2008 3 stars out of 5 -- "[T]his character-driven anti-thriller has a sure stamp of indie A-team class."
Karen Moncrieff follows up her well-received debut feature, BLUE CAR, with THE DEAD GIRL, an impressive, haunting ensemble drama. When a young girl is found murdered, the lives of several different individuals are impacted. Some of these connections are peripheral, while many others are painfully direct. The film is broken up into five distinct chapters, each with its own title. In "The Stranger," Arden (Toni Collette) finds the body, much to her abusive mother's (Piper Laurie) dismay. "The Sister" follows a graduate student (Rose Byrne) who is still mourning the disappearance of her sister along with her mother (Mary Steenburgen). Mary Beth Hurt stars in "The Wife" as a frustrated housewife who discovers that her husband (Nick Searcy) has been up to no good. "The Mother" features Marcia Gay Harden as a heartbroken mother who travels to Los Angeles to see how her murdered daughter lived and forms an unlikely bond with her daughter's former roommate (Kerry Washington). Lastly, "The Dead Girl" tells the story of Krista (Brittany Murphy), a tempestuous drug addict who wants to visit her daughter on her birthday, but fate conspires to bring her down.
Moncrieff uses different filmmaking techniques to tell each story (handheld camerawork vs. static cinematography, a variety of color schemes, etc.), but the overall tone remains the same. This is a sad, somber world, yet glimpses of hope poke through the cracks at the most unexpected moments. An all-star cast brings Moncrieff's vision to life, but it is Brittany Murphy who steals the show, delivering a performance so naked and reckless that it's painful to watch.
Los Angeles, California |
Theatrical Release |