Home Page > Movies Index (w/mixed oldies) > > Movie Review

This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

The Good Provider

The Dead Girl on IMDb

Plot Overview

care bearFemale director/writer Karen Moncrieff has shuffled together five vignettes of individual women into an avant-garde tableau of painful tales. The main story arc is of two of them: L.A. working girl Krista Kutcher (Brittany Murphy) trying to deliver a present to her daughter Ashley (Elizabeth Pernoll) for her third birthday and Krista's mother Melora Kutcher (Marcia Gay Harden) trying to reclaim her grand­daughter after Krista has gone missing. These two introduce the American dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The other three women are satellites, one for each of these inalienable rights.

First is the right to life. Krista's erstwhile roommate Rosetta (Kerry Washington) helps Melora recover Ashley from a hovel in a ghetto, but Melora doesn't want to ride in the back with the stinker, and Melora is unable to find a booster seat in that neighbor­hood. They're worried about the kid flying through the window, and the next day there's a booster seat for her.

Then comes liberty. How come Krista a white girl was roommate (and lover) with Rosetta a black? Equal opportunity is all the rage these days, but I doubt it forces prostitutes to be integrated. How­ever, Rosetta self-segregates when she refuses Melora's offer to come stay with her and get back on her feet.

Lastly, there's the pursuit of happiness. If God were so keen on making it our inalienable right, why did he confuse our tongues at the Tower of Babel so Melora who spoke no Spanish had need of a translator Rosetta to negotiate with Ashley's Latina care­taker (Carla Jimenez) for her release? We've got three other women to expand on these themes:

A frustrated housewife Ruth (Mary-Beth Hurt) finds incriminating evidence that her husband Carl (Nick Searcy) is the serial killer responsible for the deaths of eight women. She's of a mind to turn it over to the authorities, but in 2006 when this movie came out, California had the death penalty for capital crimes, so it would be good-bye Carl … and so long to the only life Ruth knows. God instituted capital punishment in Noah's days to prevent the world from going too far down­hill: (Gen. 9:6) “Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” The inalienable right to life does not apply to the murderers, it seems.

Liberty also has its restrictions since the days of Noah. Depicted below is a Civil War vintage wood­cut, made after a drawing by Julius Schnorr von Carols­feld (German painter, 1794–1872) from his archive, published in 1877. It concerns the three sons of Noah, (Gen. 9:18-19) “And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.”

drunken Noah and his three sons

Lincoln's faceThe alternate image text by licensor iStock.com/Getty Images explains what happened to Noah after fermenting some grapes: “When he drank some of the wine, he got drunk and uncovered him­self inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father's nakedness and told his two brothers who were outside. Shem and Japheth took a garment and placed it on their shoulders. Then they walked in back­wards and covered up their father's nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so they did not see their father's nakedness (Genesis 9:21-23).” (Gen. 9:24-27) “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son [Ham] had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” When Noah woke up, he blessed as a pair the lines of his two respectful sons and cursed Ham's line­—Ham paired with his youngest son Canaan—with servitude to Noah's other two sons'. The descendants of Ham's oldest son Cush (Gen. 10:6,) Cush meaning black in Hebrew, settled in Africa, some to become in later years African-American slaves. A civil war was fought, how­ever, in America to liberate them.

boy and girl on computerIn our movie a forensics technician Leah (Rose Byrne) staring at bodies all day long thinks she's found her long missing sister. She comes out of her funk and has celebration sex with her co-worker Derek (James Franco.) Then she gets a let­down or two. She's seeing a shrink (Joanie Tomsky) for her troubles—who can blame her? Sigmund Freud the father of psycho­therapy was Jewish, a Semite, descendant of Shem blessed by Noah. Descendants of Japheth who spread all over, including to Europe, were to “dwell in the tents of Shem,” and indeed they practice in Freud's tent, as it were. All well and good. But Ham's line was to be servants to the other two, the blacks were to be the janitors. Here we have a black psycho­therapist the distant daughter of her fore­father Ham who got off on looking at his father Noah's nakedness while his two bros hid their eyes so they wouldn't have those images in their heads. A shrink is supposed to have her head clear before trying to straighten out others. White Leah did not have to go to a black therapist; she could have self-segregated to a blessed one. Her sessions didn't really help her, either, and she had to call Derek for help.

grocery shoppingArden an old maid (Toni Collette) caring for her invalid mother (Piper Laurie) found the titular dead girl (Krista) in the back orchard and became a sensation on the local news attracting the attention of a stock boy Rudy (Giovanni Ribisi) whom she met while out grocery shopping, and then she went out with him. Then she up and deserted her mother with but a phone call to the police to request a welfare check. She went in pursuit of her own happiness, which is under­stand­able if a little shy of God's concern that children honor their parents.

These five women aren't tied together in a linear plot but should resonate with American ideals be they over­blown in this context. Since a balanced portrayal of the full counsel of God is not demonstrated here, we would consider this a secular movie in a post-Christian America. No big surprise, most movies are.


We are reminded of an obscure biblical character Agur, lacking faith and common sense, (Prov. 30:2-3) “Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the under­standing of a man. I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy.” Never­the­less, even he has some­thing worth saying, (Prov. 30:15-16) “The horse­leach hath two daughters, crying, Give, give. There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough: The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough.” The two neediest creatures on earth (“crying, Give, give”) are the helpless infant and the decrepit oldster.

babytombstoneIn this movie there's little Ashley and the bedridden old woman. The grave is never full; we're all marching towards it. And wombs keep chucking out babies.

“The fire that saith not, It is enough” is human metabolism that keeps burning as long as the race endures and must be fed. We see in this movie a woman nursing an infant in a restaurant, Carl eating a TV dinner from a tray, Arden eating a picnic in the orchard, an old woman eating a meal in bed, Ashley eating cookies in the car, etc.

groceries“The earth that is not filled with water” refers to ground dry enough to till. There's the burned-out orchard at the opening that provided plant matter. The sour milk that Arden neglected to replenish when she was distracted by the stock boy would refer to dairy products. Rudy's leather belt that Arden removed for love play is animal product. There's the bunny nibbling on greens in Ruth's house to show live­stock feeding on plant matter. Carl “driving around” represents trans­por­tation of raw food, and the storage unit where he keeps his trophies represents ware­housing it. Ruth packing the stuff into bags for delivery represents processing. After shopping there's preparation at home, which we also see. And this keeps going on and on and never ends, so one must either work at it him­self or do other labor in exchange.

Plot Overview 2

If the women do women's work whatever that is and for whatever reason, it's convenient for them to attach them­selves to men who will provide for them. Melora was done with her first husband, Krista's father, so she married again to Krista's step­father who from the looks of the way Melora spends money on her quest, provided for her quite well, though not with­out a (secret) quid pro quo, which is why Krista at sixteen ran away. Krista's mom was fixed on bargains even at the expense of her child's happiness with respect to birth­day expec­tations, so it figures she hooked up with a good provider. Ashley's father was an “a__hole” so Krista is quit of him. She has her own fetish of delivering her kid's birthday presents on time, so she hitch­hikes at night to get it there. The guy who picks her up is a good provider in his own right going out of his way to take her where she wants to go. She wears a grin and a pendant that says Taken in the last frame of the film. Clever, that.

Production Values

” (2006) was written and directed by Karen Moncrieff. We were treated to poignant per­for­mances by Toni Collette, Rose Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden, Piper Laurie, Mary Beth Hurt, Brittany Murphy, Kerry Washington, Mary Steen­burgen, James Franco, Josh Brolin and Giovanni Ribisi. So emotionally evocative were the women played that I a guy would have been over­whelmed if the film had gone on longer than its 85 minutes. The male actors had few lines and fewer words, to say nothing of limited screen time.

MPAA rated it R for language, grisly images and sexuality/nudity. For all that, the sex scenes were under­developed out of respect for the actors' personal exposure as the writer/director had in her past done sex scenes and felt her privacy had been violated more than it need have been. One sex scene was shot from the back with the woman astride the man, and on the wall facing the camera was a picture of a bucking bronco. Cool. Some thematic material, as I mentioned earlier, had to do with respecting a person's privacy in the buff.

There was a very effective musical score. After the credits on my DVD is an ad for a runaway hotline. Sadly, the content isn't all made up.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

This film is like a rich five-layer cake with lots of icing: toothpicks are needed to keep the concoction together with­out it shifting into a messy goo. I'm used to watching movies of every kind, so it might be easier for me to pick up the links than for some­one else who's a casual movie goer. It was an emotional tour de force.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Well, at least you can't see the strings. Video Occasion: Chick flick. Suspense: Predictable. Overall movie rating: Three stars out of five.