Thursday, 24 January 2008


Written and directed by Karen Moncrieff, this film from 2006 (released here in 2007) was one of the finest I've seen recently. Unrelentingly grim, but gripping nonetheless and featuring a swag of excellent performances from a predominately female cast (of the male cast members, Nick Searcy is exceptionally good). Many critics found it dour and depressing, yet given the subject matter, an uplifting tale of redemption and moral rectitude was not exactly promised by the film's PR and should not have been expected.

Here are some excerpts from a few of the more astute reviewers ... The trailer is below.

The Village Voice (Jim Ridley)

“... The Dead Girl isn't as gimmicky as other films that fit the current vogue for chronologically scrambled, everything-is-connected puzzle movies with bleeding-heart agendas ... ”

“The best piece of acting in the whole movie is also the quietest. Having made a horrible discovery that casts her entire married life and future in shadows, (Mary Beth) Hurt unleashes another desperate, full-throttle tirade about her lousy marriage—to which (Nick) Searcy, the husband, simply says, "I'm sorry." It's not just the contrast between Hurt's near-hysteria and his eerie, mournful calm, it's the shading in Searcy's inflection—a mixture of chilling moral absence and distant regret—that suggests unfathomable inner darkness. In such moments, The Dead Girl is the best kind of psychological puzzle movie: the kind that can't be solved.”

The Sydney Morning Herald (Paul Byrne)

“This cast is exceptional and each actress has a strong character to play. Each has an epiphany, often in a way that shocks and surprises you. None of the men is given the same care or colour but it's not about them. Moncrieff is interested in the way women react to violence, rather than why some men commit it. And some of these women are capable of their own violence, in the right (or wrong) circumstance.”

“In each story, the main female character does something seemingly inexplicable. Moncrieff's aim as a storyteller is to suggest a possible reason and this is where the film is most rewarding. Moncrieff has an almost forensic interest in women's emotions; she surprises you in every story.”

The Seattle Times (Moira Macdonald)

“ ... those who pass on "The Dead Girl" are missing something. Moncrieff has assembled a remarkable (and mostly female) cast, and there are moments in this film that are as powerful as anything currently in theaters. Mary Beth Hurt gives a blazing, angry performance as a bitter woman married to a man who harbors a dark secret; at the end of her segment, she starts a fire, and it pales in comparison to her own white-hot rage. Marcia Gay Harden, whispery yet determined, affectingly plays a bereaved mother who learns to her surprise that she has a grandchild; the little girl seems to bring light into the film. Kerry Washington takes the small role of a prostitute and makes of it something heartbreaking; a fragile creature forced to become unbreakable.”

Urban Cinefile (Australia) (Andrew Urban)

“It's a heartbreaking film, superbly written, directed and performed. The darkness is bearable only because it rings so true to humanity and embraces the positives of the human condition within its framework. A serious film for serious lovers of film.”

From 2007, “The Dead Girl” (Trailer)

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