The Reel Review


An exceptionally talented high school senior and her creative writing teacher become involved in an inappropriate relationship, putting his teaching career at risk in this drama starring Jenna Ortega (Wednesday, Scream V and VI, X) and Martin Freeman (Black Panther, The Hobbit film trilogy).

Jenna Ortega in Miller’s Girl

Writer/director Jade Halley Bartlett, in her film debut, intentionally blurs the lines between victim and villain in this sexual grooming character study, illustrating the circumstances that can contribute to such an inappropriate relationship. Cairo (Ortega) is young, shrewd and impulsive, fawning over her teacher’s novel in seeking a romantic relationship with him. Enjoying the sudden attention he’d never gotten, Jonathan (Freeman) becomes obsessed with her and starts crossing boundaries. His feelings are further fueled by his emotionally-unavailable boozehound of a wife, also a writer, who frequently berates him for his lack of writing ambition.

Martin Freeman and Jenna Ortega in Miller’s Girl

The biggest pitfalls of the film is its overly pretentious dialogue and some weirdly gothic production aesthetics, which quickly become tiresome and detract from the story, making it feel like a cheap knockoff of the 1981 Kathleen Turner/William Hurt romantic thriller Body Heat. The big turning point – when Cairo vividly describes possible details of their illicit relationship in her end-of-term writing assignment – is also a bit far-fetched. But even with its clumsy shortcomings, Miller’s Girl is a thought-provoking drama with excellent performances by its two leads.


•  Netflix recently announced that season two of the massively popular 2022 dark comedy/mystery series Wednesday, starring Jenna Ortega is filming in Ireland.

• Martin Freeman has courted controversy in recent years for a series of questionable comments made in interviews about Islam, date rape and child punishment, as well as anti-gay comments about Hollywood actors.

• There was an intimacy coordinator on-set during filming to ensure that 52-year-old Freeman and 21-year-old Ortega were never placed in unsafe situations during their steamier scenes.


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