Movie Details

The DEAD GIRL

The murdered body of a young woman named Krista is found by Arden, a lonesome caretaker living with her irascible mother. This leads to Leah, a forensics graduate student whose sister went missing as a child, stumbling upon possible closure when Krista`s body appears on her gurney. The story continues with Ruth, who in the midst of a long and intense love or hate relationship with her husband discovers a disturbing connection between her husband and Krista`s murder.

Language: English
Subtitle: NA
Classification: M18
Release Date: 27 Sep 2007
Genre: Drama / Mystery / Thriller
Running Time: 1 Hour 35 Minutes
Distributor: CATHAY-KERIS FILMS
Cast: Toni Collette
Director:
Format: NA

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Review
Writer: Ezekiel Lee Zhiang Yang

Writer Ratings:
Overall:
Cast:
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Effects:
Cinematography:

Watch this if you liked: "Jindabyne", "The Invisible", "Brick"

Who is Karen Moncrieff? Why, she's the one to blame if Nurin Jazlin's or Sharlini's family should decide to walk into a cinema thinking this is a cheap remake of some Japanese horror.

"The Dead Girl" is a disturbingly powerful vignette piece about a dead girl and five women who are connected in some way or another to her. The Stranger (Toni Collette) is the awkward daughter of an abusive mother who finds empowerment when she finds the titular corpse. The Sister (Rose Byrne) is a depressed forensics student who tries to find closure by insisting that the corpse is that of her lost sister. The Wife (Mary Beth Hurt) is the thankless murderer's wife who almost reports her husband to the authorities but for a change of heart. The Mother (Marcia Gay Harden) is a clueless middle-class woman who cannot understand why her dead daughter left home even before she was killed; and finds some answers via a whore who used to live with her daughter. The Dead Girl, the titular character played by Brittany Murphy, is a young woman who is shown to live a blameless life just days before she meets her grisly end.

No - it's not a horror. It's not a murder thriller either. It's a beautifully restrained character study that benefits from a stellar cast and their solid performance. Flying in the face of the adage 'the dead tell no tales', this movie asks the questions nobody likes to hear; all through the cinematic device of a motionless corpse. Contrasted against a wasteland of a backdrop, we see characters and their motives - some noble, some ugly; but always unflinchingly realistic. It is the sort of movie that finds appreciation only through what we wish or want to understand and derive from it.

Of course, what we understand and derive from it will always be contingent on the emotional force that drives it. Herein "The Dead Girl" suffers from the age-old censorship bug. The full texture of the film has been compromised by the cutting of scenes that are, this time, instrumental to conveying the bleakness of the subject matter at hand.

Thankfully, the strength of its performances survives this. I cannot think of a single poor movie with Toni Collette in it - this one just improves the statistic. Hers is just one of five characters and the rest of the cast are, pardon the pun, dead solid. Permeating the emotional undercurrent is also a well-chosen music score to bring out the best in that sun-bleached, dry discomfort of Los Angeles backcountry.

There is little more you can ask from "The Dead Girl", except maybe another five stories from this exciting director. Maybe this time we could be spared the veiled feminism though, eh?

Cinema Online, 23 September 2008
   
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Classification
Effective 15 July 2011
G - Suitable for all ages
PG - Suitable for all ages, but parents should provide guidance to their young
PG13 - Suitable for persons aged 13 and above, but parental guidance is advised for children below 13
NC16 - Suitable for persons aged 16 years and above
M18 - Suitable for persons aged 18 years and above
R21 - Restricted to persons aged 21 and above only
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