Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret

Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret Movie Poster Image
Sordid true crime story has mature content, brutal violence.
  • NR
  • 2013
  • 89 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

There are no positive messages in this story.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jodi Arias' grandmother and Travis Alexander's friends are portrayed as concerned and loving. 

Violence

Bookending the movie are multiple shots of the brutal, graphic, bloody stabbing and shooting of a man, from multiple angles, as well as his struggle and death, including his throat being slit; repeated shots of his injuries both while they're happening and later in postmortem photos; repeated shots of extremely bloody crime scene; a woman covered in blood.

Sex

Multiple, frequent scenes of implied intercourse, kissing, making out, or seduction; a woman performs a striptease; a woman lounges in lingerie or underwear; a man and woman often undress; descriptions of sexual acts; a description of pedophilia; condoms shown lying in a bedside bowl.

Language

"Three-hole wonder," "slut," "whore," "bitch," "ass," "damned," "bimbos," "crap."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Woman drinking wine in bar on two occasions.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret is a lurid Lifetime true story about the relationship between Jodi Arias and her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander that ends with her murder conviction. It recounts their dysfunctional relationship and includes graphic depictions of Alexander's violent murder and death, as well as the bloody crime scene, and features heavy sexual content throughout, with lots of kissing, seduction, stripteases, making out, and implied intercourse. Much of the images are photographs. There's a lot of disturbing behavior such as stalking, spying, slitting tires, and intense jealousy and fights and some abusive sexual language. It's inappropriate for kids, and there's very little value to teenagers except perhaps as a study in sensationalist murder trials.  

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What's the story?

Jodi Arias (Tania Raymonde) and Travis Alexander (Jesse Lee Soffer) meet at a motivational lecture in Las Vegas when they realize they have a strong sexual chemistry. But Alexander's strong Mormon faith keeps him from ever truly committing to Arias, as he continues to sleep with her but keeps their relationship a secret from his friends and family. Meanwhile, Arias becomes more and more jealous and unhinged as she discovers Alexander has no plans to ever take their relationship seriously. 

Is it any good?

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the prevalence of films that recreate sensationalist murders. Do you think films like this have any value, or are they just a movie version of the tabloids? What, if anything, do they help us learn about the human condition?

  • Arias insisted she acted in self-defense, but the film shows no ambiguity about her behavior. Why do you think the filmmakers chose to omit those details? How does this film contribute to the stereotype of the obsessed, scorned woman?

  • Do you think the filmmakers have a moral agenda with this movie? Why, or why not?

Movie details

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