Miller's Girl Movie Plot Explained: The True Meaning of the Film (2024)

Miller's Girl brought plenty of twists and turns to the big screen in 2024 as audiences dissected the meaning of the film.

Released in the United States on January 26, Martin Freeman and Jenna Ortega portray a teacher/student pairing who get into a dangerous relationship following a creative writing assignment.

On top of outside controversy surrounding Freeman, Miller's Girl stirred up discussions amongst fans due to the nature of this relationship being potentially romanticized in the current era of film.

Miller's Girl Plot Spoilers: What Happens During the Relationship?

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The core plot of Miller's Girl centers on creative writing teacher Jonathan Miller (Martin Freeman) and 18-year-old Cairo Sweet (Jenna Ortega) as Sweet takes Miller's class in her senior year of high school.

The story takes place with Sweet's parents on a business trip and Miller's wife not being available to him emotionally throughout the film.

On the suggestion of a friend, Sweet decides to get closer to Miller as she struggles to write a college admission essay for Yale University.

They find out how much they have in common, and after plenty of flirting and seduction, she writes an erotic short story about the sexual relationship between a teacher and his student.

Although this excites Miller, he demands that Sweet rewrite it before she calls him out for hypocrisy.

Miller's Girl Ending Explained

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After Miller asks Sweet to rewrite her story, she takes the situation to her school's vice principal, who calls them both in to discuss their affair

With their relationship progressively getting more inappropriate, Miller has to take full responsibility for the situation with the vice principal as he is suspended from his job.

Getting into a heated argument with his wife, as Sweet's friend (Winnie Black) grows more uncomfortable with what is happening, Black asks Sweet to withdraw charges of misconduct she levied against her teacher.

Cairo refuses, describing Miller's downfall as the greatest achievement of her life.

As she writes about her experiences for her college essay, Miller gains new inspiration after hitting rock bottom and starts working on his new book.

What Is the Point of Miller's Girl? True Meaning Explained

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Miller's Girl stirred up plenty of controversy thanks to its central teacher/student relationship, which many deemed inappropriate.

The plot is further complicated as it portrays both leads as being culpable in the relationship. However, it falls into a harmful trap of placing fault on Ortega's character. This type of relationship sees a massive power imbalance, leading many to be uncomfortable with the teacher walking away relatively unharmed.

Speaking with Coming Soon, director Jade Halley Bartlett addressed that gray area, calling the film "a character study" more than it being "a decree about anything." She wanted to have it be from one certain perspective to avoid the story reaching "a tipping point:"

"That’s a great question. This movie is a character study more than it is a decree about anything. I think that these situations happen all the time, and I think it’s more … this is closer to how these situations actually happen than the capital-V villain, capital-V victim situation. Not that those don’t happen — they do happen often, but I think, at least in my experience, this kind of stuff is the stuff that gets talked about less, and these lines that are crossed are still crossed lines, you know? I wanted to explore the characters within that without being … I didn’t need a massive tipping point because the tipping point is subjective to these characters. This is all from Cairo’s perspective."

As discussed with What to Watch, she initially developed Sweet as a villain before the MeToo movement came to prevalence in 2016. Realizing her "internalized misogyny," combined with her already having written multiple previous villains, she decided to change her story around to bring light to this kind of event from a different viewpoint.

This pushed her to write a script where "nobody is good or bad," and in changing the story from an on-stage play to a movie, she saw how the story "became so much richer" with characters that were so much more real and complicated.

Martin Freeman shared his thoughts on the film with The Times, making it clear that the story is "grown-up and nuanced" rather than it putting the central relationship in a positive light.

Calling it "a shame" that tough subjects can be tainted, he compared it to the idea of people criticizing Liam Neeson being in 1993's Schindler's List, which took a deep dive into the Holocaust during World War II.

Miller's Girl is now available for purchase in most online marketplaces.

Miller's Girl Movie Plot Explained: The True Meaning of the Film (2024)
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