Kajillionaire Review: A Study in A Life of Crime

In a world without Westworld and without many movies for moviegoers to choose from, Focus Features is releasing Kajillionaire nationwide on September 25th.

Kajilllionaire‘s core is depicting how two parents can live with the fact that they never let their daughter have a childhood, instead opting to use her as a tool for heists or jobs necessary in order to keep them off of the streets and out of sight.

Written and directed by Miranda July, the film comes off as though it wants to be three different films. The script takes the route of the A-B-C plot structure of a TV script, but without the payoff. I’ll skip the writing class, but this is the standard for TV scripts because it gives each character their spotlight and a way to draw in viewers every week. This script structure doesn’t work in films because most films are less than 8 hours long and don’t have the time to dive into each character. The script starts off interesting, but as the film goes on, it’s apparent that Miranda July either turned to a book of cliches about criminal families or just didn’t know where to end the scene.

The direction does come off a bit more nuanced than the script, however. July uses the weakness of the script to her advantage here, using it to exemplify how important love is in any relationship, even ones centered around pulling off heists. She mainly explores this through Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood) and Melanie’s (Gina Rodriguez) conversations. In fact, Miranda July dedicates a long portion of the film to explore this idea of love throughout Melanie, who’s in a loving relationship with her parents. 

Speaking of, let’s take the time to discuss the glorious cast of Kajillionaire. Apart from the direction, it seems like the actors were given free roam to explore these characters. In fact, there’s even a scene that’s just that. It’s just these actors acting. I won’t say what scene, but all I’ll say is that I would be upset if it doesn’t end up in an Academy Awards reel. You are seeing all of these actors at their most typecast here, outside of Evan Rachel Wood. She is literally transformed both physically and mentally here to where she’s this unrecognizable person at points in the film. Props to costume design, makeup, and hairstyling.

This film is gorgeous. From a shot of an eye at the beginning of the film to a dance sequence, there isn’t a shot I wouldn’t personally frame. 

Aside from the weak script, Miranda July’s Kajillionaire is a film that you just have to experience in order to appreciate it.

Kajillionaire is coming to movie theaters on September 25th.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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