MOVIE: The Dead Girl (2006)

Wow, this is, hands down, one of the saddest movies I’ve ever seen. And yet, at the same time, it’s actually a movie that exudes a strong sense of hope, following a group of people whose lives are all about to change for the better because of, strangely enough, the murder of a young woman.

The story is told in five sections, each from the perspective of a different character who has some connection to the girl’s death. The first character, “The Stranger” (Toni Collette), is a middle-aged woman who still lives at home with her mother, an abusive old bat who has sapped every ounce of happiness from her daughter’s life. Out for a walk one day, she finds the dead girl’s body in a field. The discovery leads to the realization that she’s not really alive herself anymore, a revelation that gives her the strength to begin making changes.

Next is “The Sister” (Rose Byrne), who is working in the morgue when the dead girl is brought in. Seeing the girl’s unique birthmark, she becomes convinced it’s the body of her long-lost sister Jenny, who disappeared ten years ago in a nearby park. But when it turns out it is not, she finally realizes it’s time to let her sister go and to get on with living her own life (caution: sex scene with James Franco, mrrrrrowl!).

Third is “The Wife,” who, it turns out, is married to the man who murdered the dead girl, as well as about eight other young women. When The Wife discovers his bags of trophies in their storage shed, she must decide whether to turn her husband in or destroy the evidence in order to protect him.

Then there’s “The Mother” (Marcia Gay Harden), who is called in to identify the dead girl’s body and soon learns the horrific truth about why her daughter had run away from home at age 16. When she learns her daughter had a little girl of her own, she tracks her down and takes her in, hoping to redeem herself by giving her granddaughter the happy life her own daughter had never gotten.

And last is “The Dead Girl” herself, a young woman (Brittany Murphy) desperate to go clean after several years of living on the street, doing drugs, and hooking. She’s on her way to visit her daughter for her birthday, with plans to take her home and finally settle down with a real job and a real life, when she accepts a ride from the wrong man . . .

Each of these stories is one loaded with pain and heartbreak, making this film extremely hard to watch. Ultimately, however, it’s a story about a bunch of women whose lives are about to take a sudden turn — mostly for the better — all because of a single, struggling-but-hopeful young woman who makes a mistake that costs her her life. I’ve never seen anything quite like this film, and I thought it was absolutely brilliant (and the cast — wow! EVERYBODY is in this thing!). Definitely recommended, but make sure you have a clean hanky handy or the dry shoulder of a loved one before watching, because I can’t imagine anybody making it through this movie without shedding at least one majorly-bummed-out tear.

Genre: Drama
Cast: Brittany Murphy, Toni Collette, Giovanni Ribisi, James Franco, Josh Brolin, Piper Laurie, Mary Steenburgen, Rose Byrne, Bruce Davidson, Marcia Gay Harden, Mary Beth Hurt, Nick Searcy

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3 Responses to “MOVIE: The Dead Girl (2006)”

  1. Dianna Trent Says:

    The gratuitous sexual scene with Mr.Franco was really so unnecessary & graphic! Saw it on YouTube & was disappointed that it was even allowed in the film. (James, you should know better! You don’t need to do those scenes! All we women can just imagine & keep the mystery to ourselves, thank you!)

  2. megwood Says:

    Actually, I couldn’t disagree more, but it sounds as though you haven’t actually seen the movie, which may be why you didn’t understand the point of the scene in question. I’m not sure what the YouTube version of the scene was, either, but what made it into the movie isn’t graphic at all. All you see is her back as she sits on top of him — nothing of Franco’s body is shown, except for possibly part of his chest when the camera comes in close on his face. There’s not even a naked butt in the scene, and I’ve seen more than that on regular primetime television (incidentally, there are fully-frontally naked women in this movie, but they’re in the Stranger and Wife stories, not in this one).

    And as for unnecessary, nothing could be further from the truth in my opinion. It’s a scene that lasts only a minute or two, but it effectively sums up the entire point of the whole vignette. There’s a second there where he sees that her eyes are closed and that she’s disconnected from him — disconnecting from people being kind of her thing, after all. And instead of not caring about that and simply enjoying the physical sensations (as many men might), he stops her and says gently, “Hello?” making her reconnect with him emotionally before they continue. That is, in a nutshell, exactly how he is going to change her life for the better– he’s the person who is finally going to allow her to reconnect emotionally with someone, after a decade of closing herself off to people because of the pain of losing her sister (and, effectively, her parents as well).

    You should rent the movie — I think you’ll find it a lot better than whatever it was you picked up about it from YouTube! Especially since it looks like you’re a huge James Franco fan, and he’s a total sweetheart in this film! 🙂

  3. brittany snow age Says:

    brittany snow age

    Man i just love your blog, keep the cool posts comin..

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