MILLIE LIES LOW – Review by Justina Walford

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Millie Lies Low goes headlong into the mistakes people make.

When I was young, I had a friend who disappeared. She was embarrassed about not completing a class that resulted in not getting her degree. So instead of telling her family why her diploma hadn’t arrived, she lied on top of lies until -knowing getting caught was inevitable- she got on a plane and flew to Europe. I recall telling my parents about this, and both were nonplussed.

“Everyone does that,” yawned Mom.

“We screw up and double down until we go a little crazy,” Dad added.

That was the day I learned that we all make mistakes. Big mistakes. And sometimes, we make more significant mistakes just trying to survive in our skin from that first mistake. I am still slightly confused about this kind of situation, but if my parents did it and my friend did it, it must be pretty common.

In Millie Lies Low, Millie (Ana Scotney) is on her way to New York for a prestigious internship, but she has a panic attack and gets stuck in her hometown. Instead of telling her friends and family that she missed her flight and can’t afford another one, she decides to fake her trip to New York on social media. Her life devolves from there, with each secretive misstep leading to worse and worse consequences.

Big mistakes leading to bigger mistakes.

This is Michelle Savill’s first feature, so of course, I wanted to do some internet sleuthing and see what motivates her. I found this quote: “I’m interested in little personal stories, odd moments, seemingly inconsequential slices of life, but that somehow contain universal themes.”

I watched this film, asking myself, is this a universal story? Do we make mistakes on top of mistakes out of shame? Is it realistic to find empathy for a protagonist who proactively makes her life worse and worse?

My first reaction to the film was to find Millie unrealistically impetuous. I couldn’t relate, much like I couldn’t relate to my friend who flew to Europe because of an incomplete term paper.

But as I saw other characters make their mistakes, I realized Savill did exactly what she endeavors to do. She found a universal moment, a panic attack on a plane. And then, she took other inconsequential moments, specifically mistakes, and created an avalanche of poor decisions causing catastrophic consequences. Seeing this symphony of poor choices then felt utterly relatable. Utterly 20-something. Maybe even a rite of passage.

My friend later completed that term paper and even later became very successful and happy. My parents, who said everyone has a time when they pile on mistakes, spent their 60 years of marriage full of joy and stability. In the film, Millie does stop making mistakes. There’s no fast-forward to her life later. But I left the film with the same hope for Millie.

For a first feature, kudos to Michelle Savill. If I were to hope for anything in her next film, I hope she keeps her superpower of creating flawed characters with empathy, and I hope she explores the same uncomfortable themes.


An award-winning writer of screen and stage, Justina Walford was also the Founder and Festival Director of Women Texas Film Festival for the life of the fest and she was programming director of Oxford Film Festival for two years. A lover of adrenaline-filled movies since she could understand the word “zombie,” she is particularly drawn to strong women’s voices in alternative genres such as horror, action, and science fiction.

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