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This new offering from director Miranda July is certainly a unique beast.
Kajillionaire follows Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood), who is a sullen and obedient daughter to her parents Robert (Richard Jenkins) and Theresa (Debra Winger), who have never treated her like a child and instead as an equal with very little tenderness.
Living off-the-grid, the trio complete small-time scams in an attempt to pay rent for their dilapidated and soap-sudden apartment and stay afloat, without conforming to the lifestyles of everyone else.
However, when the trio attempt to scam the bubbly Melanie (Gina Rodriguez), she soon ends up as an accomplice to the group and the structure on which the family dynamic rests begins to fracture as Old Dolio questions just how much good her parents have really done her.
Richard Jenkins, Debra Winger, and Evan Rachel Wood star as a family of hustlers in Kajillionaire
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Mixing the genres of a coming-of-age film, a love story, a family drama, a dark comedy, and even a crime caper, Kajillionaire is unique in tone and style and feels both troubling and amusing.
July’s characters are visually memorably as well as solidified by vivid performances. Evan Rachel Wood delivers a gravelly-toned, awkward, quietly sensitive lead turn, made all the more instantly vibrant with the long straight locks and tracksuit bottoms.
Jenkins and Winger make a cold yet mischievous partnership as the equally shabby parents, while Gina Rodriguez’s expressive disposition and glossy appearance feel like a breath of fresh air to both the film’s visuals and in Old Dolio’s life.
Melanie (Gina Rodriguez, left) brightens up the world of Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood)
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The film slowly unfurls the strange habits and cycles of Old Dolio’s hustles with her parents, making Melanie’s arrival all the more impactful as the plot kicks into high gear as we see Old Dolio grapple with mortality, a longing for familial connection and also a lustful desire.
What was amusingly bizarre becomes sadly maladjusted, and what starts as an odd-couple pairing between Old Dolio and Melanie becomes something much more meaningful.
Not all of the surreal moments work – including one rather cosmic sequence which feels pointlessly random – but some, including pink soap bubbles repeatedly leaking through from the factory next door into the block the family rent, are just appropriately cartoonish.
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Yet it is the heart and warmth for disenchanted and unloved makes the film a charming experience.
Ultimately, Kajillionaire is an imperfect but a witty and enjoyable adventure with a character who feels like a misfit but will find her own way to grow.
Kajillionaire is a quirky tale of an undervalued and maladjusted small-time hustler that is told with the charming voice of director Miranda July.
Kajillionaire was shown as part of London Film Festival 2020 is released in select UK cinemas on October 9, 2020.
What is your favourite film about outsiders? Let us know in the comments section below.