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Dead Girl - Steelbook Packaging
Dead Girl - Steelbook Packaging
Actors: Brittany Murphy, Josh Brolin, James Franco, Marcia Gay Harden
Director: Karen Moncrieff
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
R     2009     1hr 25min

The life of a lonesome caretaker (Toni Collette) is turned upside down when she stumbles upon the body of a murdered girl. The discovery may provide closure for a forensics graduate student (Rose Byrne) whose sister went m...  more »

     

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Movie Details

Actors: Brittany Murphy, Josh Brolin, James Franco, Marcia Gay Harden
Director: Karen Moncrieff
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: First Look Home Entertain
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 03/03/2009
Original Release Date: 01/01/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2006
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 1hr 25min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 6
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
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Movie Reviews

Powerful and riveting drama
MattW | Seattle, WA USA | 04/19/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"An amazing all star cast show off serious acting chops in a dark drama/thriller told in segments and concentrating on different points of view and experiences revolving around the death of a young woman. Harrowing, moving, and suspenseful, the films draws a sudden and suprising conclusion that is both realistic and shocking. A great character piece that paints complicated portraits of its character both both good, bad, and neurotic. I would describe the film as being very dark but told with such conviction and lack of heavy handiness that it's also very entertaining. Toni Collete as always gives an incredible performance alongside quasi walking legend Piper Laurie, Mary Steenburgen, Giovanni Ribisi, Kerry Washington, and many others including stand out performances by an amazing Mary Beth Hurt and a right on target Brittany Murphy (nobody does almost-insane and/or drugged out better than her). A good film elevated by an amazing cast and inspired performances."
The Search for Ways to Fill Holes in the Soul
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 05/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Karen Moncrief has written and directed this terrifying, searching, agonizing, and exceptionally fine story of the responses of five different people to the discovery of a dead girl. By dividing her story into chapters named after The Stranger, The Daughter, The Mother, The Wife, The Sister, and The Dead Girl she offers us fully realized characters, each of whom is affected by the opening discovery of a mutilated young dead girl's body. The technique of non-linear film is not new, but Moncrief raises it to a new, powerful level, a fact that makes this film one of the more sophisticated and successful of the past few years.

Arden (Toni Collette) is a homely frail girl who accidentally discovers the dead girl, taking a necklace from the corpse before reporting the discovery to the police. She is a caretaker for an invalid, foul-mouthed cruel mother (Piper Laurie) who berates Arden for being so ugly and for involving them in a murder case. Arden flees, meets The Stranger Rudy (Giovanni Ribisi), a tattooed, scary appearing guy who is attracted to Arden because she appears so innocent. He courts her with tales of serial killer manners and yet eventually gains Arden's fractured self-perception trust with physical contact. The next chapter introduces Leah (Rose Byrne) who works with Derek (James Franco) in the mortuary where the dead girl's body has been deposited for autopsy. Leah discovers markings on the dead girl that convince her this is the sister who has been missing for 15 years, a fact that her parents (Mary Steenburgen and Bruce Davison) refuse to accept. Leah's tenuous hold on reality is altered by Derek's consolation and physical attention.

The Wife episode offers a view of Mary (Mary Beth Hurt) and Carl (Nick Searcy), a married couple with mutual distrust: Mary knows Carl has flings with prostitutes while Carl feels Mary is too controlling. Mary discovers a chest of torn bloody underwear in one of their business Storage Containers, connects the items with Carl in a suspicion that Carl may be related to the death of the dead girl, and burns them. In The Mother we finally meet the true mother Melora (Marcia Gay Harden) of the dead girl Kritsta (Britanny Murphy) as she traces the clues from the body to a seedy motel where she meets Rosetta (Kerry Washington), Krista's roommate and lover, only to discover that the dead Krista ran away from home to become a prostitute and drug addict in response to a childhood abuse problem with her father. Melora is informed that Krista has an illegitimate three-year-old daughter Ashley whom Krista loved and Melora seeks to care for the only remains of the dead girl - her granddaughter and her lover.

This film beams with brilliant performances: Collette, Harden, Byrne, Laurie, Hurt, Searcy, Washington, Steenburgen, Franco and Ribisi are poignant in their depiction of damaged people whose lives are altered by the Dead Girl. This is ensemble acting of the finest category. The production values are strong and the director's control of what could have been a meandering saga is firm and keeps the story from becoming sensationalized. This is yet another brilliant little film that deserves a very wide audience. Grady Harp, May 07"
A strong cast makes for compelling viewing!
z hayes | TX | 05/18/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This was a very depressing movie just in the subject matter: the cruel murder of a young tortured soul. The movie itself is in five parts which is told from the point of view of the different characters in the movie. "The Stranger" revolves around Toni Collette who plays Arden, a homebody & plain woman who is caring for her emotionally abusive aging mom, played to great effect by Piper Laurie. Arden finds the 'dead girl' and takes the necklace on the corpse as her own treasure. She also engages in some creepy conversation & sex with a guy she met at a grocery store, played by Giovanni Ribisi.
"The Sister" is about Rosie Byrne who plays a sibling who is tortured by her parents' continuous grieving for a sister abducted 15 years ago. She also works in the pathology lab, and thinks the "dead girl" could be her long-lost sister.She plays someone who is desperately seeking closure and an end to the endless hope of her parents [her mom is played by Mary Steenburgen].
"The Wife" was the most chilling part in the movie...it centers around a woman who is loud and abrasive and whose husband goes on mysterious trips out of town and they both manage a storage place. She takes over for him on one of his trips, and makes a startling discovery in one of the storage spaces, which in turn leads to an interesting if morally questionable decision on her part.
"The Mother" focusses on Marcia Gay Harden who plays the mother of the "dead girl" and her grief is very palpable and touching to watch. She takes the initiative to trace her daughter's last residence and meets Kerry Washington, who plays a hooker and drug addict who was also her daughter's best friend/lover.
"The Dead Girl" takes a look at the last hours in the life of the victim, played convincingly by Brittany Murphy [one of her best performances so far]...the last frame was truly chilling to watch.
Overall, I found this to be a compelling movie with a tightly-woven plot. The excellent casting added to the emotional depth of the movie and each character was convincingly fleshed out.A worthwhile addition to the thriller genre."
Vignettes Reveal The Whole Truth
B. Merritt | WWW.FILMREVIEWSTEW.COM, Pacific Grove, California | 08/03/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Several seemingly unrelated individual vignettes culminate to form THE DEAD GIRL, including a piece on the victim herself.

The first story surrounds the mundane and abusive life of Arden (Toni Collette, Little Miss Sunshine). Mrs. Collette gives a stunningly fine dramatic performance, moving fully away from her recent comedic roles. She is the discoverer of the dead girl's body, but she doesn't report it right away. Found not far from her shabby home where she lives with her scornful mother, Arden takes a few mementoes away from the dead girl's final resting place before notifying the police. Her mother is livid about Arden's find and just wished that she'd left the dead girl alone without telling anyone about her. There is an unseen tie between Arden and her mother (played by Piper Laurie), but the death of an infant (probably Arden's) is quickly surmised. This "other death" eats at Arden and her mother's relationship, feeding guilt to one and anger to the other. Arden's celebrity status ("That's the one who found the dead girl") also peaks the love interest of Rudy (Giovanni Ribisi, 10th and Wolf), a town local who soon learns how mentally damaged Arden really is.

The effect of the dead girl is then transferred to the medical examiner's office where we meet Leah (Rose Byrne, 28 Weeks Later). Leah (an M.E. herself), along with her mother and father, have yet to come to grips with the disappearance of Leah's sister some 15 years earlier. Leah believes the dead girl to be her long, lost sibling while her mother and father (especially her mother) refuse to believe it. The family tension is palpable here and much credit must go to director Karen Moncrieff for "keeping it real."

We then run into Carl (a distant husband played by Nick Searcy) and his wife Ruth (Mary Beth Hurt, Lady in the Water). Ruth is terribly embittered because of Carl's absences, and she believes her strong religious philosophies are being tested when she finds some disturbing clues as to Carl's activities while he's away. It is Carl whom you want to keep a close eye on throughout the film.

The discovery as to the dead girl's true identity is finally meted out and her mother, Melora (Marcia Gay Harden) comes to I.D. the body and discover why her daughter ran away from home. Guilt, shame, fear, and redemption await those who stick it out and finish watching what happens to Melora as she learns the truth behind her daughter's roughshod life and what lay beyond her final resting place.

And then we get to meet Krista (Brittany Murphy, Happy Feet), The Dead Girl herself. Interlocking all the other storylines with Krista is a pretty phenomenal piece of cinematic work, and it is done effortlessly. The connections are made in whiplash quick fashion so watching the final segment may take a few viewings before all watchers actually "get it." Krista's prostitute life is not relegated to "the hooker with a heart of gold" cliche. She is not the best person to hang around with, but she is a "real" human being who makes poor decisions, good ones, and one, final, fatal choice.

The Dead Girl is not a thriller. It doesn't show the murder nor have men with chainsaws jumping out from behind trees to cut-up our nearly naked victim. It is a slow immersion into the terrible lives of these messed up folks. Don't get me wrong: this film isn't without tension. It has PLENTY. It's just not the type your sixteen-year-old will be used to and will probably fall asleep watching.

The ensemble cast, I think, speaks to how motivated the actors were to do this project and make it an effective piece of cinema. All of the cast were spot-on in their character portrayals and it is these characters that drive the entire production."