Parents' Guide to

Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret

By Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Sordid true crime story has mature content, brutal violence.

Movie NR 2013 89 minutes
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The acting is decent, and it's a tidy story, but it's hard to find much that's redeemable about JODI ARIAS: DIRTY LITTLE SECRET. Based on a true story of a case that combined sex, Mormonism, and murder, there's no shortage of lurid, sordid details to gawk at here, drawn right from the headlines. Unfortunately, it's also a story not only of humanity at its worst but also of the cinematic instinct at its worst. Both our main characters are too typecast for us to understand them any better than we might have from the news: She's an obsessive crazy woman; he's guilty of being, well, a man who likes sex. There's not much more to them, other than a hint that Arias has picked the wrong men before.

In between is a lot of soft-core sexuality all leading up to a brutally graphic murder scene that is memorable only for its use of wall-to-wall blood. Were any of Arias' allegations that Alexander was abusive to her true? We never see that here. Could she have really feared for her life? The filmmakers don't even attempt to introduce the concept, though it was her entire defense. Instead we get a tale as old as time: a woman scorned, a man of faith tested, and a lot of Arias' supposed "sex mojo," as one anchorperson puts it in the film. Regardless. this is far too disturbing for kids, but older teens interested in the case are not likely to find deep insight here into the murderous mind, and perhaps the best course of post-viewing discussion would be asking why we insist on sensationalizing the already sensational or what we gain as people by making or consuming films that are the cinematic equivalent of rubbernecking at a terrible car accident. These are, after all, the stories of real lives. One could just as easily re-watch the trial.

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