Monday, February 23, 2009
The Dead Girl
The Dead Girl struck me as odd from the very first frame. The imagery used in this film immediately stood out from the onset. I noticed the subtle soundtrack which helped create the somber mood the images were leading up to. A lonely woman in a vineyard filled with strangely twisted trees, a crow flying overhead, a coldness. In an area of a vineyard where only stumps stand where once life flourished...our lady notices something in the grass. The something being a dead girl. The dead girl. An absence of words allows the images to tell the story. It is a concept that lingers throughout the film.
The woman’s name is Arden (Toni Collette). Her sorrow follows her into the house, where we find that Arden cares for her recalcitrant mother (Piper Laurie). The mother is angry Arden has reported the body, bringing Police into her yard. The overbearing mother sheds some light on the source of Arden ’s brooding. We follow Arden ’s character for a short while, experiencing her darkness (with some help from Giovani Ribisi) before moving on to the family of a missing girl. They are a family dysfunctional from their loss and inability to heal. The daughter Leah (Rose Byrne) examines the body found by Arden , noticing a birthmark that leads her to believe it is her missing sister. The opportunity to have release from the bondage of a “missing” sister brings Leah out of her shell, before she learns that the girl is not her sister. Her shadows close back in on her as we depart.
Carl (Nick Searcy) is a serial killer. He lives with his bitter wife Ruth (Mary Beth Hurt), a woman weary of Carl’s constant wanderings. It seems Ruth lives to fix Carl’s dinner, wash his clothes and run his storage unit business while he is off “galavanting around.” Ruth mistakenly finds Carl’s trophies, memoires of the girls he has killed, in one of the storage units. Ruth struggles with her decision at her discovery, acting in a seemingly illogical manner…but not necessarily unbelievable. Ruth walks off into the darkness as we meet the mother of the dead girl, Melora (Marcia Gay Harden). After speaking with Detectives, Melora sets off to find the place where her daughter lived. We meet the dead girl’s girlfriend Rosetta (Kerry Washington) in a seedy motel where prostitutes ply their trade. Rosetta helps Melora understand why her daughter left, and ends up introducing Melora to a granddaughter she never knew she had. Although dramatic elements exist in this segment of the story, it ends with more promise than the others…
…moving back through time, we are introduced to the dead girl. She had a name. Krista (Brittany Murphy). Krista wants to bring her daughter a gift for her third birthday. Krista is a vibrant likable character with an outer joy that covers her tough interior. She has an intensity that seems to flare from her. Her intensity is both good and sometimes bad. She has a John named Tarlow (Josh Brolin) that seems to be sweet on her. But there are limits in any relationship. Tarlow reneges on a promise to take Krista to see her daughter for her birthday. Krista ends up on a broken down motorcycle looking for a ride. She seems so full of life during her conversation with Carl. And then the credits roll.
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