Jenna Ortega’s new movie Miller’s Girl is stirring up considerable controversy due to a steamy scene between her and English actor Martin Freeman, who is 31 years her senior.
Miller’s Girl is an American black comedy drama starring Ortega and Freeman in the lead roles. The movie is about creative writing teacher and author Jonathan Miller, who enters a complicated relationship with his student Cairo Sweet following a challenging writing assignment.
Miler’s Girl examines the boundaries of teacher-student relationships, and their lines to obsession, exploitation and abuse. It levies a sharp critique of the power imbalances between Sweet and Miller, by delving into their age gap, his position of power, and her being a fan of his writing. It was released on 26 January 2024 and man, the internet had thoughts:
The majority of viewers seemed to be surprised to see Ortega, Wednesday Adams herself, engage in behaviour that didn’t exactly seem PG.
Others just found one particular scene “disturbing” and “uncomfortable.” The film features a dark and erotic scene in which Miller reads a creative writing assignment that Sweet submitted. The two become immersed in the reading, as he starts to stroke his student and bends her over a bed, before leaning in very close. Then they engage in further intimate acts, not as the characters in the movie but as the characters from Sweet’s story.
Many of Ortega’s fans pointed out that the scene was meant to be disturbing and that the actress only seemed to receive intense scrutiny for it because viewers couldn’t divorce her from the pre-teen character of Wednesday.
The movie, which hasn’t been a hit with fans or critics, seemed to spark intense reactions about exactly the type of dynamics it intended to critique. Nevertheless, netizens were shocked to discover how Ortega was being patronised and desexualised by her fanbase. After all, she’s 21 years of age, which should give her the power and autonomy to present herself in her body in whatever ways she deems appropriate.
On a different note, fans also broke the fourth wall by taking a look at Freeman’s personal life. More specifically, the fact that the English actor is currently dating Normal People star Rachel Mariam, who is 29—23 years Freeman’s junior.
Unsurprisingly, some netizens took this real-life relationship to mean that Freeman, much like Miller, has a certain penchant for younger women. And while it is undeniable that older men who date younger women are subject to far less scrutiny than women who date older men, may I propose something else?
Maybe both Freemand and Ortega are just really good actors, whose roles are supposed to make us feel uncomfortable and challenge our belief systems. And maybe we shouldn’t project what happens on camera onto their personal lives. Just a thought.