6.6/10
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80 user 86 critic

The Dead Girl (2006)

Trailer
2:23 | Trailer
The clues to a young woman's death come together as the lives of seemingly unrelated people begin to intersect.

Director:

Karen Moncrieff

Writer:

Karen Moncrieff
2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Toni Collette ... Arden
Piper Laurie ... Arden's Mother
Donnie Smith ... Cop 1
Michael Raysses Michael Raysses ... Cop 2
Earl Carroll Earl Carroll ... Reporter
Dorothy Beatty Dorothy Beatty ... Grocery Checker
Eva Loseth Eva Loseth ... Grocery Store Customer
Giovanni Ribisi ... Rudy
Rose Byrne ... Leah
Joanie Tomsky ... Therapist
James Franco ... Derek
Christopher Allen Nelson ... Murray
Mary Steenburgen ... Leah's Mother
Bruce Davison ... Leah's Father
Kate Mulligan Kate Mulligan ... Party Girl
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Storyline

In Los Angeles, a story about a dead girl, told in five chapters. A woman, miserable in her circumscribed life caring for her domineering mother, finds a body. Somehow, this discovery allows her to change. At the morgue, the sister of a girl missing for 15 years believes the body is that of her sister; this liberates her. An older woman, married to a man who pays her little attention, finds evidence in a storage unit; how will she handle it? The mother of the dead girl, who left home some years before, visits the last place her daughter lived and makes her own discoveries. Last, we flash back to the victim's final day. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Stranger, The Sister. The Wife. The Mother. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, grisly images and sexuality/nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The dead girl that the film centers on is played by Brittany Murphy, who died 3 years later, at age 32. See more »

Goofs

When Melora meets Rosetta, her face is beaten up. When she takes Rosetta out to eat, her face looks normal. When she drops Rosetta back at the motel, her face is a mess again. See more »

Quotes

Melora: Did she tell you why she ran away?
Rosetta: She probably wasn't happy
Melora: Did she tell you why?
Rosetta: Other than her stepfather sticking his dick in her? I don't think so, she probably thought "hey man fuck it, if I'm going to do it I might as well get paid" and her mother was too much of a dish rag to do anything about it, you know typical the husband or the kids they always trust the husband...
Melora: Did she tell you that?
Rosetta: What?
Melora: That her mother knew and chose him?
Rosetta: She probably likes it right? Probably took some of ...
[...]
See more »

Alternate Versions

In the theatrical release, there are two references to Arden's dead brother: when her mother mentions him, causing Arden's frenzy, and when she packs his picture before she leaves. There is an extended sequence that shed light on this relationship, and the shared tragedy that bound Arden to her mother for many years. See more »

Soundtracks

Memphis
Written and Performed by Bob Forrest
See more »

User Reviews

 
Dark comment on the hidden strength of women
27 February 2007 | by drexelspiveySee all my reviews

"The Dead Girl" A film review by Brian Murphy "The Dead Girl," writer/director Karen Moncrieff's (a former television actress and director) penetrating new film, connects five women affected by the death of a young woman (Brittany Murphy). The film, split up into five chapters, reads like a book, with each chapter examining the changes in their lives brought about by the brutal murder of someone most of them have never met.

"The Stranger," "The Sister," "The Wife," "The Mother" and "The Dead Girl" comprise a fascinating, multiple character study of abused, confused and repressed women. The murdered woman winds up being an altruistic, sacrificial lamb that alters the course of others for better and for worse.

Ms. Moncrieff has assembled a stellar cast. Toni Collette ("Little Miss Sunshine") shines as Arden, an emotionally bruised daughter, isolated from society by her abusive, invalid mother. After discovering the corpse of a young woman, her world is turned upside down; the media hounds her, she is romantically pursued by a creepy grocery clerk (the underrated Giovanni Ribisi), and she rebels against her passive nature, lashing out at a mother (Piper Laurie) who, referring to her deceased brother, remarks, "He (God) should have taken you instead!" Rose Byrne is phenomenal as Leah, a young woman desperately searching for a way to put the 15-year disappearance of her sister to rest. While her mother (Mary Steenburgen) still posts age-enhanced pictures of her daughter, desperately hoping for her return, Leah wishes for her family to accept the fact that her sister must be dead, in order for them all to move on. Her occupation as a coroner perfectly corresponds to her character. When she comes across the corpse that Arden discovered, she immediately finds a birthmark similar to that of her sister. Finally feeling the closure she has been seeking, Leah embarks on a life separate from work and her therapist's office. She responds to the advances of slightly creepy coworker Derek (James Franco of "Spiderman"), and has sex in a scene Ms. Moncrieff deftly designed to express release.

Mary Beth Hurt (as Ruth,) and Marcia Gay Harden ("Pollock,") present two antithetical characters seeking redemption for, perhaps, their denial. Ruth, a religious, forgotten wife, believes her despondent husband may be a serial killer, while Harden's Melora is the mother of a woman possibly murdered by Ruth's husband. Ultimately, their choices define them. Ruth chooses to remain in denial, while Melora seeks the cause of her daughter's decision to run away. In the end, one is lost and haunted, while the other earns redemption.

Not to be forgotten, Brittany Murphy ("8 Mile"), as Krista (a.k.a. "The Dead Girl") gives a spectacular performance that serves as the essential footnote to Moncrieff's film. Murphy delivers as a junkie prostitute who, despite her troubled past, is still a loving mother.

Karen Moncrieff's script may have difficulty appealing to a mass male audience. Her script is gender-centric, studying the growth or regression of several female leads. The few male characters involved are either initially or ultimately presented as unsympathetic, withdrawn, or potential sources of violence. This does not exclude children, like the young boy who punches his sister in the arm. Men are not definitively portrayed as evil, but the film does cast a wary glare in their direction.

However, Ms. Moncrieff's writing is insightful, and her direction is expressive. She uses a myriad of close-ups to showcase the talents of her fine ensemble cast and also to express a claustrophobic tone-Her women are often emotionally stunted, cornered by men, or voluntarily succumb to their own fears. Their transitions define this empathetic yet brutally honest film.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 April 2007 (Hungary) See more »

Also Known As:

The Dead Girl See more »

Filming Locations:

Acton, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$6,613, 31 December 2006

Gross USA:

$19,875

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$905,291
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(theatrical)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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