Kajillionaire: Film Review

Kajillionaire

Miranda July‘s latest film Kajillionaire presents audiences with an extremely odd and interesting family unit, and while I enjoyed spending time with this intriguing set of characters, I wasn’t thrilled by the film’s quirky style.

The focus of the film is Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood), a 26-year-old who works scams with her con artist parents Robert (Richard Jenkins) and Theresa (Debra Winger). They pull off low-stakes scams to help them get by, like stealing parcels from the post office, and have failed to pay rent for their ‘home’ – an office space that leaks suds from a factory next door every day – for many months. Old Dolio has never been treated like a child or given any love or affection from her parents; they have always seen her as their accomplice. Their way of life is turned upside down with the arrival of outsider Melanie (Gina Rodriguez), who helps Old Dolio question her relationship with her parents and makes her realise she could have a different future. 

The family dynamic July created was original and fascinating and I became invested in Old Dolio starting a new life of her own; one that was honest, legitimate, and more ordinary, perhaps even loving and caring. I wanted to spend more time with this enlightened Old Dolio and I thought audiences deserved a bit more to give the story proper closure, so the ending took me by surprise – and let me down – because I couldn’t believe that was it; I was certain there had to be more to come.

July takes a pretty alternative and minimalist approach with her script. There were certain conversations I wanted the characters to have but they never happened and many questions about the family went unanswered. I appreciate that honest communication wasn’t the family’s forte, but most scenes feature hardly any talking and the elephant in the room is never addressed, no matter how much you want it to be. There were specific confrontations I was excited for and I was left very unsatisfied that they weren’t given to me. 

Rodriguez is the shining light in this movie as Old Dolio’s beacon of hope. She brings energy, charm, and much-needed normality into the mix and she was easily the most magnetic player. I think the film really needed her at the point she arrived. I love Wood as a performer but it’s hard to warm to a character so introverted, monosyllabic, and emotionally stunted. It would have been great to see her come out of her shell more. Jenkins and Winger are reliably amazing as the parents always on the lookout for the next scam.

On the surface, Kajillionaire just seems like a family heist movie, but if you stick with it – despite its oddball randomness – it becomes much more about Old Dolio learning she deserves more from her life. I enjoyed getting to know these characters for a short while but I wasn’t a fan of its niche and weird style.

In cinemas from Friday 9th October 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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