Photo: Miller’s Girl Poster-Source:IMDb.png
Martin Freeman and “Wednesday” (2022) actress Jenna Ortega star in a taboo love story between a teacher and his student. Jenna stars as Cairo, a young writer who exudes an old soul, attempting to connect with her older professor, Mr. Jonathan Miller. This thriller drama begins pretty slow and solemn, with Cairo slowly drawing Mr. Miller in more each day.
Jeanna Ortega is known for her roles in “Wednesday,” “The Fallout” (2021) and the “Scream” franchise, so it was no surprise to me seeing Ortega in such a serious role after her appearance in other films. A topic like a teacher and student relationship is already such a touchy subject to recreate, and I applaud her for performing such a complicated role.
I realized that this story took place in the South soon after hearing the accent of Cairo’s best friend, Winnie, but Ortega and Freeman’s accents slipped back into their real voices every once in a while, losing their consistency. Plus, some of the dialogue in this film reminded me of a cliché Wattpad story. The cigarette-smoking, old-literature-reading trust-fund English student infatuated by the teacher over twice her age is a trope we’ve seen before.
Mr. Miller is a former writer who never imagined teaching, but fell off of writing over time after marriage. Though his mediocrity and pushover attitude holds him back from life, you can tell that Cairo was a major shift for him. Even his uninterested wife didn’t pick up on his crush on Cairo; she just played along with it.
Mr. Miller assigns Cairo a creative writing assignment: to choose an author and write a piece inspired by their work. Of course, he gave this to her earlier in the semester so she could apply it to her writing portfolio for Yale. This was already a red flag — her teacher giving her special treatment when meeting before class. Cairo chooses author Henry Miller, which Mr. Miller hesitantly suggests she change due to his inappropriate themes.
Mr. Miller invites Cairo to a poetry reading. There, they share a cigarette and continue to grow closer. One day after school, he ends up accidentally grabbing her phone. They end up meeting later and share a kiss when they exchange phones. Cairo later hands her paper in to Mr. Miller, which is a graphic piece, to say the least. Miller grows outraged after reading it, saying it’s inappropriate and making Cairo feel like she was the one that went over the line. Her original piece was inspired by their relationship — of course the names just switched out and their story over-exaggerated.
This movie definitely had the potential of a great drama, inspired by such a complex subject, but proceeded to idolize the idea of chasing after someone older for a better experience. “Miller’s Girl” (2024), the story of the 18-year-old student and her 52-year-old teacher, was tense and unsettling. This story, though it flowed pretty well, felt like a very simple short story made into a film. With the toxicity riddling the characters’ dynamic, this film was full of unhappy relationships.
The ending was left unsaid, but with Cairo’s mournful monologue we can definitely understand what happened to her teacher. I just wish that the end of the film focused more on punishing Mr. Miller for having such an inappropriate relationship with his student, as well as showing his consequences. If the dynamic within their relationship was recognized and talked about, this film would have been able to make a turn. But between Winnie encouraging Cairo to go after Mr. Miller and her pursuing a teacher herself, “Miller’s Girl” only managed to romanticize authoritative figures who take advantage of young girls.
Lauren Flynn-Miller is a third-year Interdisciplinary major with minors in Journalism, Media & Culture, and Professional & Technical Writing. LF954013@wcupa.edu.