The Dead Girl

The Dead Girl

1.5 out of 5 1.5 out of 5 1.5 out of 5 1.5 out of 5 1.5

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Remember when Brittany Murphy said she would never tell in Don’t Say a Word? Five years later she can’t shut the hell up, getting herself killed and dumped in Toni Collette’s backyard. Trying to get away from her mama (Piper Laurie), Collette’s shrinking violet takes a long walk outside, finding Murphy’s corpse and stealing the necklace around her neck before calling the police. The first of five stories that makes up this lousy traffic jam of a movie suggests a sequel to Carrie, with Laurie squawking you’re-not-good-enough admonitions at her daughter from her sick bed—the kind of abuse that’s meant to tritely explain why Arden (Collette) entertains the idea of getting raped when she accepts a date from a supermarket bag boy played by a tattooed Giovanni Ribisi. From there it’s one mini Crash scenario after another, only Karen Moncrieff’s melodrama is less noxious than Paul Haggis’s race fantasy by virtue of having nothing to say about anything that will be of any importance to anyone. Rose Byrne saves the second story, about a forensics graduate who gets to sleep with James Franco and thinks Murphy may be her missing sister (Byrne’s impressive waterworks make credible her character’s desperate search for closure), but the rest of the cast is not so successful: Mary Beth Hurt, in story three, succeeds only in conveying how a wife’s harping can turn a husband to murder, and Marcia Gay Harden can’t save a story that’s a slave to second-chance clichés. For better and for worse, it is Murphy who makes the biggest impression, resurfacing in story five to show how her character met her miserable demise. Since her saga illuminates nothing about female victimhood, we can only take pleasure in the unintentional hilarity with which the actress devotes herself to her character, as in the scene where she seals her daughter’s birthday card in a way that’s meant to evoke the way she performs fellatio. Which, by the way, is horribly.

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DVD
Distributor
First Look International
Runtime
93 min
Rating
R
Year
2006
Director
Karen Moncrieff
Screenwriter
Karen Moncrieff
Cast
Josh Brolin, Rose Byrne, Toni Collette, Bruce Davison, James Franco, Marcia Gay Harden, Mary Beth Hurt, Piper Laurie, Brittany Murphy, Giovanni Ribisi, Nick Searcy, Mary Steenburgen, Kerry Washington