A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this dark, mature movie puts women and girls in relentlessly grim situations. The five interconnected stories all revolve around a corpse left by a serial killer in a field. By turns, the women discover the body, examine it in a morgue, learn the killer's identity, and remember the victim personally; a final segment shows how the girl met her killer. Violence is rendered as effects more than acts: bruised bodies and faces, the bloody and decaying corpse, etc. Sexual images include oral sex and many shots of bedraggled prostitutes (skimpy costumes, bruised limbs and faces). There's cigarette and pot smoking, and a crack pipe is shown. Language is incessant, with more than 60 uses of "f--k" (and plenty of other swearing).
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What's the story?
Five films in one, THE DEAD GIRL is Krista (played in flashback by Brittany Murphy). In the first segment, Krista's body is found by Arden (Toni Collette), who lives with her demanding mother (Piper Laurie) and finds brief respite in the arms of serial killer aficionado/grocery bagger Rudy (Giovanni Ribisi). In "The Sister," Leah (Rose Byrne) struggles with the ongoing aftermath of having a sister who's been missing for more than 15 years. A forensics grad student, she's hoping that the corpse Arden discovered is her sibling -- knowing the end will, she imagines, help resolve her family's trauma. In "The Wife," Ruth (Mary Beth Hurt), is married to Carl (Nick Searcy), who leaves her to go "driving" at night. When a chance discovery leads her to knowledge she'd rather not have, Ruth has to make a choice, and none of her options is good. The last two segments reveal specific information about Krista and reinforce the film's point that women must help each other.
Is it any good?
THE DEAD GIRL is a bleak homage to women's survival and defeat in the face of violence and oppression. Karen Moncrieff's second feature expands on the themes of her first -- Blue Car -- investigating the ways that lack of communication among women only exacerbates their bad situations with men.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the role of mothers and daughters in this movie. What messages is it sending about women? What is it saying about the effects of broken families on daughters? Does it suggest that mothers lost in their own grief or rage abandon their children? What are the consequences of that? How does the murder affect the different women connected to the victim? Could a different event have had such powerful consequences?