The intimacy coordinator for the movie Miller's Girl addressed the age gap between its stars, Martin Freeman, 52, and Jenna Ortega, 21.
The trailer for the drama came out last month and shows Jenna as an 18-year-old high school student taught by Martin's character, the titular Miller. Lionsgate calls their inappropriate relationship an "increasingly complex web." The movie hasn't exactly received great reviews, holding 33% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Daily Mail spoke to Kristina Arjona, the intimacy coordinator behind the movie's more sexual scenes, as a handful of people voiced discomfort with the fact that sex was simulated between Martin and Jenna, who was 19 at the time.
"There was many, many people throughout this process, engaging with [Jenna] to make sure that it was consistent with what she was comfortable with, and she was very determined and very sure of what she wanted to do," Kristina said.
"Part of my job too is supporting her decisions. I adapt to whatever is the comfort level of my actors, especially on a production like this where there is a large age gap between the actors," she continued.
Kristina emphasized that "continuous consent" was given by Jenna — "especially [as she is] someone who's significantly younger."
As part of her role, she talked about things like the "level of nudity," modesty garments, and "additional barriers" to maintain an "appropriate distance." The actors were also free to "change their mind" on the day of shooting.
However, focusing on the ages and consent of the actors involved may be missing the bigger reason why people are criticizing the movie. "While teacher-student relationships have happened in the real world, depicting them in a film requires a nuance that seems to be missing here," one reviewer said. Screenrant said of the plot, "It reinforces the harmful stereotype that teenage girls are largely at fault for inappropriate power-imbalanced relationships."
Writer and director Jade Halley Bartlett herself described Jenna's character arc as a "villain" origin story, saying, "I use the word villain lightly as well. I think that no character in this movie is a villain or a victim." Given that a teacher having sex with a student is literally illegal in some states, it appears that the bigger question is how the movie handles the inherently predatory relationship, rather than whether it is depicted at all.
Miller's Girl is now available in movie theaters.