Emily the Criminal is one of those movies that popped out of nowhere. There are no superheroes, no CG, and no “modern writing”, this is just a gritty drama about one person’s struggle living in the US.
The movie stars Aubrey Plaza, Theo Rossi, Bernardo Badillo, Kim Yarbrough, Jonathan Avigdori, and, very briefly, Gina Gershon.
It is written and directed by John Patton Ford, another newcomer to the scene, but does a very good job with both the story and direction.
The story summary is:
Down on her luck and saddled with debt, Emily gets involved in a credit card scam that pulls her into the criminal underworld of Los Angeles, ultimately leading to deadly consequences.
I won’t spoil too much of the story, but Emily, played by Plaza, seems to be in the same boat as many in the US, and around the world, where they have bills to pay, they work for minimum wage, and life is a struggle.
We start with Emily at a job interview, where it’s brought up that she does have a criminal record. The rest of the interview goes badly and she’s stuck in the same crappy job, delivering food.
One of her colleagues passes on a number of someones who can pay her $200 a day, and no, not for ‘that’. It’s a guy called Youcef, played by Rossi, who counterfeits credit card numbers, but gets other people to buy expensive stuff with the stolen numbers.
A chance to make $200 is too much for Emily to turn down, so she does it. This then leads to buying more and more stuff and even putting herself in danger.
I love Parks & Recs and I love Plaza in it, who plays April, who ends up married to Andy, played by Chris Pratt. April and Andy are the human equivalent of a cat and a dog.
I always thought Plaza was great in this, even though it’s just a situation comedy, she always seems like a good actress. Some of her other roles have proved this, like Safety Not a Guarantee and Scott Pilgrim.
In Emily the Criminal she really has a chance to shine as the lead, and she does it really well. I didn’t see her typecast as April, she was Emily and you really felt her struggle and how she was feeling. It was really good to see her get her teeth into something like this.
As I always say, this movie won’t be for everyone. I am extremely bored with modern Hollywood, I have given up on Rings of Power, House of Dragon, and even the latest Star Wars story Andor and the movies aren’t much better. Trying to find something new to watch is like trying to find meaning in a Pauly Shore movie.
For me, seeing something like Emily the Criminal was nice since it’s not the most original of stories, but it is well done, it’s dark and gritty, and I was fully engaged with all the characters.
If you fancy something a bit like that, a drama/thriller, you might enjoy it. I give Emily the Criminal a solid 3.5 out of 5. It was something I would watch again and just a well-made movie.