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DEAD GIRL, THE: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
The lives of several strangers intersect: when Arden (Toni Collette) finds a dead girl near a river, she begins to attract attention - for the first time in her life. But the incident triggers a conflict with her aged, ailing mother (Piper Laurie). At the morgue, forensics student Leah (Rose Byrne) comes to believe that the dead girl is her sister, missing for 15 years; her parents (Mary Steenburgen, Bruce Davidson) refuse to believe it. Meanwhile at the trailer park, Ruth (Mary Beth Hurt) discovers evidence against her husband Carl (Nick Searcy), incriminating him as a serial killer. When police identify the dead girl as Krista (Brittany Murphy), her mother (Marcia Gay Harden) drives from Washington to Los Angeles to identify the body. She meets Kirsta's former room-mate, a prostitute (Kerry Washington) who reveals dark, damaging secrets about Krista's home life.

Review by Louise Keller:
The Dead Girl is bit like a jigsaw puzzle, whose jagged pieces comprise damaged people trying to make sense of their lives. Lonely women are the centre of each of the five dense chapters that are connected in some way to the body of the murdered girl discovered at the beginning of the film. The characters in each story are separate, and their pertinence defined by the relationship they bear either to the dead girl or someone connected to her. The intense emotional link, however, is undeniable. Intriguing and unpredictable, this multi-layered film delivers a profound ripple effect as it explores the complexities of anger, grief, denial and retribution.

For Toni Collette's abused daughter Arden, the discovery of the naked body is a catalyst for escape from her tyrannical, cruel mother. 'It doesn't hurt when you kiss me,' she tells Giovanni Ribisi's supermarket assistant, of the cuts on her hand which mirror the emotional pain in which she lives. Rose Byrne's forensics student Leah aches for closure following the disappearance of her sister, and desperately wants the body she is examining to be that of her sibling. When Mary Beth Hurt's wife Ruth makes a chilling discovery about her husband, she knows the decision she has to make cannot satisfy both her conscience and her loyalty. By far the most moving chapter is that simply called 'The Mother', when Marcia Gay Harden's Melora discovers the truth about her dead daughter's life. We feel her pain as she hears from her daughter's prostitute flatmate, the reasons for her choices and most devastatingly what her daughter had thought of her. In the final chapter, there is closure, as we meet the girl herself, Krista (Brittany Murphy), in her final hours.

Strong performances bring writer director Karen Moncrieff's poignant characters to life, leaving us vulnerable and moved by their commonalities and differences. It is impossible not to respond to the helplessness, yet be warmed by the unexpected moments of hope.

Published November 14, 2007

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

DEAD GIRL, THE: DVD (MA)
(US, 2006)

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

PRODUCER: Eric Karten, Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg, Kevin Turen

DIRECTOR: Karen Moncrieff

SCRIPT: Karen Moncrieff

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Michael Grady

EDITOR: Toby Yates

MUSIC: Adam Gorgoni

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Kristan Andrews

RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hoyts

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 17, 2007

PRESENTATION: Widescreen

SPECIAL FEATURES: .

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: November 14, 2007







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