Emily the Criminal (2022)
This Sundance indie thriller packs more anxiety into 90 minutes than most Hollywood thrillers combined. It’s a starring vehicle for Aubrey Plaza as the titular Emily, a woman with a prior criminal record who finds herself in debt and struggling to find a better paying job. In desperation, she joins a small-time credit card fraud squad, using stolen identities to purchase expensive electronics and pass along to her employer to resell. At first, it’s a quick and easy fix and she can walk away at any time, but the money is good and Emily begins to take on bigger and riskier jobs. It’s here where I really started sweating as Emily gets into some very serious jams, but she comes back swinging, and it’s a thrill. At the same time, you worry that she’s going too far and there may be no turning back. The movie reminded me a lot of 2016’s Good Time, an electric indie thriller that vibrated with anxiety as well as a surprising but thoughtful cause-effect story flow. Emily the Criminal begins as an indictment on the social mechanisms that trap the poor into poverty but then in its second half escalates urgently, spiraling into a tragic confluence of violence and vengeance. Plaza is outstanding from the first scene onward. Even her posture speaks volumes about her character. It’s a performance where you can see the gears of her decision-making, whether it’s fight-or-flight impulses, swallowing her pride, holding to a façade, or regaining what has been taken from her. The very ending of the movie is perfect and a fitting end of Emily’s character arc. It’s the American Dream turned into a modern nightmare of perfectly perpetual desperation.
Nate’s Grade: A-
Posted on December 27, 2022, in 2022 Movies and tagged aubrey plaza, crime, drama, sundance, thriller. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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