I went into Emily the Criminal, a quirky crime thriller featuring a female lead, with zero expectations. And the movie fucking blew me away. Juicy and anchored by Aubrey Plaza’s phenomenal performance, this is an intelligent and well-crafted movie. We will be following Emily, a working-class girl struggling to make ends meet. One day, her coworker will give her a phone number that will lead her on a totally different path in life. I just loved the fact that the story is focused on someone who, like most of us, is barely scraping by. And that’s not all.
Throughout the movie, Emily will keep bumping into the ugly face of our capitalist society. Capitalism is just the manifestation of a much deeper issue regarding our tribal system of values. A system that grinds and also pushes people into situations and rationalizations that can have grave consequences. You can look at Emily the Criminal as a modern version of the nineties hit Falling Down. If you want to know more about this, I recommend you read this blog post: Falling Down: A Man Past The Point Of No Return.
Especially since both Emily and D-Fens are basically anti-heroes. They’re anti-heroes and yet you root for them because they’re the products of their environment. However, I don’t want you to think that this is some boring social commentary movie. Emily The Criminal, with a running time of just under ninety minutes is a tight, engaging, and above all entertaining thriller. If you don’t want to think about the deeper implications of the story, you don’t have to. And you will also learn a thing or two about how the criminal underworld works in real life. Something that I found really fascinating.
Meet Emily, a strapping young girl strapped with a mountain of student debt she’s having trouble repaying. She currently works in the food delivery industry, grinding every day but to little or no avail. One of her coworkers tells her that if she wants, he can help her earn some money. All she has to do is send a message to a certain phone number and follow the instructions. Desperate and out of options, Emily decides to go for it…
Although I could swear I knew Aubrey Plaza from somewhere it turned out that this is the first movie she stars in I watched. On the other hand, I watched Theo Rossi in a number of movies and television shows. The two of them were great together here. Add to this an excellent script and you got yourself quite a movie. What I loved about it is this sort of focused madness. Characters make a bit zany but calculated decisions that you or I might make in a similar situation. Or we think we would.
Either way, the writer and director of this movie, John Patton Ford, made a movie that stands out in a crowd of safe, unrealistic, and ultimately boring movies. Emily The Criminal is a blast through and through, with an unusual but satisfying finale. Some of the scenes were so intense and unnerving that I felt like I was doing all those crimes out there. I guess I’m not good criminal material. Or I just haven’t reached my limit yet. Although I have to admit that this credit card thing seems fairly easy and straightforward.
Director: John Patton Ford
Writer: John Patton Ford
Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Theo Rossi, Bernardo Badillo, Jonathan Avigdori, Megalyn Echikunwoke
Fun Facts: The budget for the movie was just $1.5 million.