Movie #166 2021: Kajillionaire (2020)

I’d heard wildly mixed things about Kajillionaire before I watched it. Some absolutely adored this movie, some thought it was pointless and quirky for quirkiness’ sake. The truth this, this shit is right up my alley. Pastels, talented cast, weird story… Yep, that’s the stuff of dreams. In that respect, I was fully prepared to feel let down by it, so let’s see how I went.

Kajillionaire is an original screenplay penned and directed by author turned filmmaker, Miranda July. Known for her bizarre, hyper-stylised work, July brings that energy back to her latest release. It tells the story of an unconventional family of con artists, in short. The parents of the family have brought their 26 year old daughter up to swindle, steal and barter at every opportunity and as a result, she’s lived her life shielded from the world. Whilst on their latest ‘mission’ which leads them to New York, they enlist the help of a stranger whom they abruptly decide to trust, and their whole world begins to change.

LFF 2020: Kajillionaire review: Selfish baby boomers finally get their  comeuppance

So, the verdict. Did I feel let down by this movie? Thankfully, no! This was actually one of those rare times in which I thought a film was good when I watched it, but then couldn’t stop thinking about it afterwards. If nothing else, it’s certainly memorable.

Director Miranda July just absolutely nails that off-kilter, indie vibe that you expect from her. A touch of hipster ✨aesthetic✨ here and a quirky angled shot there, a sprinkling of nutty, almost unrealistic dialogue thrown in amongst it all… yep, that’s July. And it’s all quite beautiful to look at, actually. What especially stood out to me was the transition from the pastel colour palette to the vibrant technicolour after the main character experiences a change in mindset. Visually, Kajillionaire is quite a low key feast for the eyes.

As for the cast, Evan Rachel Wood plays the oddball emo quite well, but I must admit that I wasn’t really wowed by the majority of her performance in this. (Side note: her character’s name is Old Dolio, which is something I won’t forget in a while…) I hate to say it, but Gina Rodriguez impressed me more than I thought she would and she manages to bring some lightness and a mild sanity to the weirdness of the rest of the movie. In fact, Wood does her best work when paired in scenes with Rodriguez, and the best parts of the film feature the pair of them realising the weirdly wonderful connection they have.

It’s a very muted, mostly slow-paced film and for that reason, it won’t be for everyone. Don’t expect tons of action and instead expect a peculiar, kind of emotionally deep story about a less than “normal” family. If that sort of thing is your jam – like it is mine – I have a feeling you’ll be quietly impressed with Kajillionaire.

Mostly, I’m a little annoyed that this film wasn’t more about Wood and Rodriguez running around the States together committing crimes, but that’s just me being too gay. A solid effort from Miranda July without a doubt, and the ending was more perfect than I ever thought it would be.

Kajillionaire is available to stream on Sky Cinema and Now TV in the UK.

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