Friday, August 12, 2022

Emily the Criminal

"You're a very bad influence."

Aubrey Plaza stars as Emily, a former artist with a chip on her shoulder, a mountain of debt, and a felony conviction limiting her job opportunities. And then walks in the charming Youcef (Theo Rossi) and the chance to earn a little easy money buying items with fake credit cards. And after a little success that one-time opportunity becomes two, and then three, and then more as Emily falls deeper down the rabbit hole seeing a way out of her old life and ignoring the dangers her new life will bring as she begins taking larger and larger chances.

We've seen plenty of films about people dipping their toes into crime and being seduced by booze, drugs, and all the material items their newfound wealth can buy. That's not what writer/director John Patton Ford is after here. Emily isn't seduced by the money but by the potential freedom from her life it can provide. 

In some ways the smallest taste of that freedom works stronger than any possible drug as the situation with Youcef and his disapproving brother (Jonathan Avigdori) gets more complicated heading into the tense final act. Plaza is terrific as the tightly wound woman fueled by a boiling rage and fed up with her life. Plaza has played crazy before, but Emily isn't out-of-control. She's present, manic as her situation deepens, and all too aware of being trapped in her life.

In all possible ways, Youcef was both the best and worst person who could have crossed her path by introducing hope to a woman desperate for it. While some might see Emily the Criminal as a heist film, it's really something more of a character study akin to the dark musings of the human condition and how far someone may go to see their desires fulfilled.

Watch the trailer
  • Title: Emily the Criminal
  • IMDb: link

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