Miller’s Girl parents guide: Jenna Ortega’s sweaty thriller is not for Wednesday fans

Ortega's teen fans might want to look elsewhere than this half-baked Tennessee Williams knock-off.
Jenna Ortega as Cairo Sweet in Miller’s Girl. Photo Credit: Zac Popik
Jenna Ortega as Cairo Sweet in Miller’s Girl. Photo Credit: Zac Popik /

Miller’s Girl garnered a slew of headlines leading up to the January 26 theatrical release of the Jenna Ortega and Martin Freeman starring thriller. Mostly of the “X rated!! Jenna Ortega what are you doing!!” variety. And now the movie is on Netflix, meaning it’s sitting right next to ginormous hit Wednesday when you search for Ortega’s name.

But this movie is not for kids. I’ll also note at the same time the whole “x-rated” thing is wildly overblown, as this is more in line with a raunchier Tennessee Williams play than the Basic Instinct/Cruel Intentions redux it was being sold as by the saucier press.

In the film, Ortega plays a high schooler named Cairo Sweet, who has no life experience and therefore nothing to write about. Enter Jonathan Miller (Freeman), a blocked writer and English teacher who immediately becomes enamored with Cairo’s burgeoning talent. The two strike up a flirtation and things either do or do not go off the rails from there, depending on whether it’s all fiction or not.

Stuck in the middle of this duo are Jonathan’s frequently drunk wife Beatrice (Dagmara Dominczyk), Cairo’s sexually fluid best friend Winnie (Gideon Adlon), and a biscuit-baking teacher/coach named Boris (Bashir Salahuddin).

So that’s the setup. Is the Rated R movie a no-go for kids? Or is it a scream? That’s a reference to Ortega being in the Scream franchise, by the way.

Miller’s Girl Parents Guide: Explaining The R Age Rating

Miller’s Girl
Jenna Ortega as Cairo Sweet in Miller’s Girl. Photo Credit: Zac Popik /

Miller’s Girl is Rated R, and on Netflix, they note this is for “sexual content, language throughout, some teen smoking and drinking.” So yes, not for kids. But teens? Let’s get into it.

Sex & Nudity: There is no nudity in this movie, other than some bras, if you consider that nudity? I do not! Bras are clothes! Beatrice lounges around with her bra hanging out, and in the movie’s most overtly raunchy scene, Cairo gets Winnie to take her top off (again, bra-on) so they can make out and send the pictures to Boris.

Otherwise, there’s a scene where Freeman masturbates, though you don’t see anything, several scenes where Beatrice either mounts or grabs Jonathan’s crotch and writhes, and one scene where Jonathan in what is potentially a dream sequence/story sequence takes Cairo from behind. Though again, you don’t see anything other than a hand grab and the intimation of something sexual. That all said, the whole point of the movie is sex, and the discussions are non-stop and graphic. More on that below.

Violence: Nada.

Language: As mentioned above, pervasive, non-stop, and descriptive. The movie is seemingly partially inspired by the works of Henry Miller, and several passages are read from his sexually explicit books. The characters also discuss sex frequently and with exceedingly flowery language. They’re all writers, you see.

Drinking & Drugs: The girls smoke, Jonathan smokes, the adults drink, Beatrice is wasted most of the time, and the kids get drunk as well. So yes, lots of drinking, some smoking, no drugs.

Overall Verdict: What Age Is Miller’s Girl Appropriate For?

While nowhere near as explicit as the press would like you to think, this Rated R movie is still very much for 17 and over. Teen fans of Ortega and Adlon might be interested to see them work opposite each other, but this is an adult movie for adults that grapples with tricky topics like power dynamics and sexuality. Also of note, they explicitly state Ortega’s character is 18 at the top of the movie. But at the same time, this depicts a decidedly inappropriate relationship between teacher and student.

Also, for what it's worth, this movie is not very good. The themes are murky, the accents wildly all over the place, and it has all the depth of a high school short story aping better, more astute works. Not only will your teens be treated to a ton of sexual language and situations, but they’ll ultimately be confused and disappointed. So, perhaps this movie is for no ages?

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