Welcome to Miranda July’s idiosyncratic come-back with another quirky bandwagon, Kajillionaire, exactly nine years after the filmmaker’s last foray into oddball cinema with The Future. Her new movie works on multiple layers and, at some points, functions like a wicked fairy tale that doesn’t exhaust the dose of everything beyond ordinary—from soap-soaked house to a nine-year-late 17th birthday party. Framed as a con-artist drama, the plot might have inhabited the world that looks real, but normal characters are scare and that’s what to expect from this movie.
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In the presentation, Kajillionaire is a caper story centered on a three-fold con-artist family, The Dynes, keen to pull small-time thefts and scams to make the preferably low end meet. The patriarch, Robert (Richard Jenkins), and the matriarch, Theresa (Debra Winger), manipulate and educate their daughter, Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood), since little to be an accomplice. What makes the family more peculiar is the fact that they pride themselves on living on the barely minimum income—with a very minimum way of life in an empty office near a soap factory—only from their small crimes. They’re the pinnacle of anti-establishment who resents money-worshipper, which they refer to us ‘kajillionaire.’
The whole caper’s principle and way of life that makes up almost half of the duration is, in fact, a setup for the well-implied fairy tale. It begins with The Dynes’ biggest score to scam travel insurance company for USD 1,500 to settle their housing bills. While the scheme doesn’t exactly go as expected, the family encounters a happy-go-lucky woman, Melanie (Gina Rodriguez), who will then join the bandwagon. Melanie, in a quintessential July’s fashion, poses as a reflective figure to reveal what has gone wrong with the family. It’s hinted, but without her involvement, the crisis doesn’t seem to make the headline.
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Miranda July is no stranger on finding love in the darkest place; and, so Kajillionaire, which she also writes, finds humanity in the least expected spots, among unexpected kind of people. Wood’s Old Dolio, whose name contains similarly peculiar backstories, becomes the subject to July’s pursuit of humanity and Rodriguez’s Melanie is the catalyst. Old Dolio, a repressed soul, seems more mechanical than humane as she seemingly is incapable of feeling emotions; that suggests who her parents treat her. Living with a bare necessities, to her parents, applies to all aspect of life, including in the amount of care given to the daughter—negating the notion of unconditional, parental love.
With Kajillionaire, July prescribed the idiosyncratic story in an offbeat effectiveness; not like the doctor orders, but, the dose is right for admirers of her work. It’s completely bizarre even when it walks in the realm of reality. From Wood’s raw performance to Jenkins’ and Winger’s impossibly captivating portrayal of ill-skilled, mechanical parent, the story might work like a fairy tale or anything in the fiction department. And yet, the quest for humanity amongst the oddly inhumane people is accomplished in an okay way.