Saturday, November 20, 2021


Movie Name:
Year of Release: 2020
Director: Miranda July
Starring: Evan Rachel Wood, Richard Jenkins, Debra Winger, Gina Rodriguez, Patricia Belcher, Kim Estes, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Rachel Redleaf, Mark Ivanir, Michael Twaine
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 8
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:
Artist Miranda July is back, following her previous feature "The Future", which was released in 2011. "Kajillionaire" which had its debut at the Sundance Film Festival, follows the story of a young woman by the name of Old Dolio. She and her family, comprised of father Robert and mother Theresa, are con artists, making a living or at least trying to make a living out of stealing, lying and generally speaking, figuring out an angle from whatever situation they find themselves in. Dolio has had a rather stunted existence, which manifests itself in her social awkwardness, mostly since her parents have never shown her much attention or love. She has grown up always involved in their grifting or conning schemes, and knows nothing from life aside from that. When they get pressed for rent money, Dolio figures out a way for them to travel to NY, using some tickets they got from a contest, and scamming the airline for insurance money by claiming some of their bags got lost. While the plan initially works out nicely, on their way back to LA, Robert and Theresa strike a conversation that quickly evolves into a partnership with the beautiful and lively Melanie. Melanie quickly becomes familiar with some of their grifts, and starts introducing the family to some of her elderly clients (she works at an eyeglass store). This new player in the family disrupts Dolio's existence, particularly as she witnesses her parents doting on this person, as they never did on her.
Since starting her career with "Me and You and Everyone we Know", Miranda July has consistently been crafting stories that are very specific to her universe. "Kajillionaire" is no exception, since it showcases a farcical take on a grifting family, while simultaneously focusing on the awakening of someone who has been emotionally robbed of a full life. It's a film that manages to showcase some truly monstrous behaviors and yet these characters come across as less than hateful, mostly because Miranda July manages to create a reality that while not completely alien to our own, it's also not necessarily the same. It's a film that creates a unique reality, one where these characters live these rather challenging existences, where humor comes through, perfectly married with some dramatic instances, mostly derived from troublesome and unresolved relationships. There's a sense of sadness, surprise and wonder which emanates from this narrative. The film is all the more wonderful thanks to the work of a phenomenal cast, particularly the always fantastic and underrated Evan Rachel Wood, the equally brilliant Richard Jenkins, Debra Winger and Gina Rodriguez. Even if these characters feel at times somewhat abstract constructs, there's also something profoundly humane in the journey they all take. The cinematography from Sebastian Wintero is fantastic as is the score from Emile Mosseri. A truly wonderful film, from a consistently engaging and unique voice in American cinema.