Notice: All forms on this website are temporarily down for maintenance. You will not be able to complete a form to request information or a resource. We apologize for any inconvenience and will reactivate the forms as soon as possible.

Miller’s Girl

Content Caution



In Theaters


Home Release Date




Emily Tsiao

Movie Review

What is your greatest achievement?

It’s a strange question to ask on a college application. After all, most applicants have only been alive for about 18 years—and several of those were spent learning how to walk, talk and tie their shoes.

Cairo Sweet reads the question and realizes that her greatest achievements, to date, are becoming valedictorian and having a 4.6 GPA at her small, Tennessee high school. And while those achievements are certainly admirable, they’re not going to impress the admissions officers at Yale, where every applicant is a valedictorian with a 4.0+ GPA.

No, if Cairo wants to escape her boring, reclusive life in Tennessee (some of which is self-imposed), she’ll need more than academic success on her resume. She needs to experience life differently.

So when her best friend, Winnie, jokingly suggests exploring the nuances of student-teacher affairs, Cairo laps it up.

And Mr. Miller is the perfect target.

The meek English professor published a book that received harsh literary critique. His wife is too engrossed in her own work to give him much interest. And, let’s face it, he enjoys Cairo’s attention.

Mr. Miller mentors Cairo on an assignment meant to bolster her portfolio for college. But not knowing her hidden agenda, the relationship soon becomes much more than that between a committed instructor and promising protégé.

Positive Elements

None, save perhaps that a school administrator holds a teacher responsible for inappropriate actions toward a student.

Spiritual Elements

We hear jokes about Puritans, ghosts and sacramental blood.

Sexual Content

This film is verbally graphic and visually very sensual (while avoiding direct nudity).

Cairo decides to write in the style of Henry Miller, an author whose works were originally banned from publication in the United States because of their descriptive sexual language. She and Jonathan Miller (her teacher) narrate her sexually explicit prose. We hear other sexually explicit material read out loud, too. And the word “pornographic” is brought up more than once. (A variety of terms for male and female genitals are used as well.)

But there’s also an affair happening between the adult teacher and the 18-year-old high school student. Cairo writes, “For Jonathan, love Cairo,” at the top of her salacious assignment. Mr. Miller masturbates (no nudity, but we see movements) as he reads it. A fantasy sequence shows the pair acting out some of the sexual descriptions (fully clothed).

In real life, they attend a poetry reading together where they look more like a couple on a date than a student and teacher. And Cairo arranges for Mr. Miller to come to her house (while her parents are out of town), where she meets him in a form-fitting satin gown, and they kiss.

Another affair occurs between Winnie and Coach Fillmore, Mr. Miller’s best friend. Their flirtatious encounters are filled with innuendo, but nothing physical ever ensues. (Although Winnie borrows Fillmore’s phone and puts it in her bra for safekeeping, making a big deal of this when she hands it back to him later.) And Fillmore later deletes incriminating text messages between them.

But Winnie doesn’t seem to mind since she professes to be a lesbian. She harbors an unrequited love for Cairo, and the girls frequently talk about sex and virginity. But in one instance, the two young ladies remove their shirts (they’re wearing bras) and make out. Cairo photographs this encounter and makes Winnie send it to Fillmore to entice him.

Mr. Miller and his wife, Beatrice, also share a few intimate scenes together, kissing and nearly having sex. Beatrice is frequently seen wearing a bra or slip dress beneath her robe. And she teases Jonathan about Cairo’s writing, even asking him to read it to her as a form of foreplay.

Teen girls wear revealing outfits, and they mention their intent to attract older men. A few male characters dress effeminately and wear makeup. We see a nude painting in Mr. Miller’s house.

[Spoiler warning] Despite her earlier teasing, Beatrice is hurt when she realizes that her husband has real feelings for Cairo that he’s acted upon. And it’s heavily suggested that she plans to divorce him.

Violent Content

Cairo says that heartbreak feels like violence. And Beatrice warns her husband that teenage girls can be emotionally violent.

Crude or Profane Language

We hear nearly 50 uses of the f-word, once paired with “Almighty” as a pseudo-reference to God. God’s name is abused nine times (paired with “d–n” in four of those), and Christ’s name is abused once.

We hear about five uses each of the s-word and “d–n.” There are several graphic terms for male and female anatomy, including “c–k” and “p—y.” And the c-word is used four times, once as an insult. We also hear a single use of “h—.”

Drug and Alcohol Content

After noticing that Mr. Miller and Coach Fillmore smoke by the football field before school, Cairo decides to join them. Mr. Miller gives her cigarettes on occasion, and they also share a single cigarette at a non-school function.

Mr. Miller’s wife drinks frequently, and he later calls her an alcoholic in anger. (She says she drinks because it’s the only way to make him bearable.) People drink in other scenes, too. Cairo and Winnie get drunk one night.

We hear a joke about marijuana.

Other Negative Elements

Ultimately, Mr. Miller realizes he’s crossed a line with Cairo; but by then, it’s too late to undo the damage of his affair. He tries backtracking by rejecting further advances from her. However, that only spurs her into (rightly) reporting him. He then lies (to no avail), defends his actions and even blames Cairo.

But as the adult here, it was his responsibility to put a stop to everything before it even happened. He failed, giving in to Cairo’s flattery. In the end, he faces the consequences.

It should also be mentioned that while most of this film’s events were carefully manipulated by Cairo, she is genuinely hurt by Mr. Miller’s actions. And though she isn’t entirely innocent, she was certainly naive enough that Mr. Miller shouldn’t have pressed his advantage.

There are some frank discussions about censorship (though it should be noted that the authors mentioned are censored for their R-rated materials).

Cairo says that her parents pretend she’s dead because they have permanently moved abroad, leaving her alone. She insults Tennessee several times, which some viewers may not appreciate.


Cairo describes herself as the fulfillment of several literary cliches: Lonely girl longs to escape small town. Lonely girl longs to be meaningful. Lonely girl longs to be loved.

Her actions toward Mr. Miller are all driven by these desires. But what she doesn’t realize—until it’s too late, that is—is that love is much more complex than what you read in books. And her careful ministrations are unable to prepare her for the reality of heartbreak.

She and Mr. Miller begin an affair that starts out as emotional—two like-minded people who seem to understand one another—but quickly devolves into physical.

Though she and Mr. Miller never do more than kiss, their relationship becomes scandalous because of the words they exchange. And ultimately, it destroys Mr. Miller’s career and marriage, since he unwisely indulged Cairo’s twisted fantasy.

Would-be viewers should note that while there’s no nudity, we still see quite a bit of skin and a veiled glimpse at masturbation. There’s more than one student-teacher affair. And two teen girls make out in their undergarments.

The film is verbally explicit in many ways, too. Sexual acts are described in graphic detail. We hear some crude terms for male and female anatomy. The f-word is heard about 50 times, and God’s name is frequently abused too (often paired with “d–n”).

One could potentially squint and see the outlines of a morality tale here. That said, however, there’s nothing really redeeming about Miller’s Girl. Mr. Miller realizes he was an arrogant fool—that it was wrong to cheat on his wife and take advantage of a teenage girl—but the film ends with him still on the defensive.

And while Cairo seems to be hurt by the way things end between her and Mr. Miller, it’s hard to tell how much of it is simply fodder for her college essays.

And none of that makes for a film that anyone truly need to see to understand that an illicit affair between an adult and a teen is going to end in emotional and relational devastation.

The Plugged In Show logo
Elevate family time with our parent-friendly entertainment reviews! The Plugged In Podcast has in-depth conversations on the latest movies, video games, social media and more.
Emily Tsiao

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and geeking out with her husband indulging in their “nerdoms,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything they love, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Lord of the Rings.