Filmmaker Miranda July returns with “Kajillionaire,” a profoundly phenomenal picture and one of the most original comedies of the year. Evan Rachel Wood, Richard Jenkins and Debra Winger are absolutely spellbinding!
Omne trium perfectum, everything in threes is perfect, sums up one con-artist family. Low level criminals Theresa Dynes (Debra Winger) and Robert Dynes (Richard Jenkins) have been training their daughter, Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood), the tools of their trade for the past 26 years. Stealing, scamming and manipulating others is no big deal because there is no such thing as an honest buck. Then again, what do expect when a child learns to read and write by forging checks? Despite the quirkiness of her lifestyle, Old Dolio thinks it’s practically normal to steal packages from PO Boxes and take one-time, oddball jobs to make quick money. After attempting a desperate airline scam for a quick $1500, the trio charm and befriend a seductive stranger named Melanie (Gina Rodriguez), who turns all of their lives upside down.
Breathtakingly brilliant, “Kajillionaire” is arguably Miranda July’s best film yet and makes an amazing addition to her feature film catalogue with the most easily accessible story. This unique, unusual family con-man comedy certainly does the trick with an exceedingly entertaining and exhilarating film focused on how parents can transform and torment you. Without a doubt, Philip Larkin’s poem “This Be The Verse” immediately comes to mind. This beautifully bizarre and humorous attempt approaches the heartbreaking exploration we endure at some point or another reflecting on our lives. Miranda July’s small-stake grifters, The Dynes, are a hilarious, heartfelt manifestation of those chasing the American Dream and allows the audience to appreciate all the ridiculous things we try in life to obtain materialistic happiness. Some might see this trio as misanthropic morons moving from one hustle and scam to the next, but there’s something undeniable about these loveable losers and are addicting to watch.
“Kajillionaire” contains three award-worthy performances by Richard Jenkins, Evan Rachel Wood and Debra Winger. There is cosmic chemistry amongst this terrific trio and they each light up the screen sublimely. Evan Rachel Wood wows with a tour-de-force performance and proves her “Westworld” leading lady status is no fluke as an adult performer. Wood’s wondersome, naïve nature beautifully blends the exploitation and compassion lacking in her life. It’s completely charming, captivating and heartbreaking all at once. Old Dolio maintains a Zen-like aura around herself, yet struggles searching for real meaning with her parents. The Dynes have messed her up.
Richard Jenkins’s Robert is both equally ridiculous and remarkable with his outlook on life. His infectious chants of “Ha Ha Ha, Cry Cry Cry” will have you quoting him nonstop. Not to be outdone, he has an excellent partner in crime with Debra Winger, who is a national treasure. Debra Winger has truly transformed into a spectacular character actress. This funny, funky family dynamic shouldn’t work, but the magnificent writing works fantastically. “Kajillionaire” portrays the genuine gawkiness introverts interact with other individuals and amazingly does it in an exceptionally entertaining way without mocking them for being different. Despite being a dark dramedy and depressing lifestyle, the zaniness and quirks of the three principles pull you in with poignant performances throughout.
Much like “Me And You And Everyone We Know,” there is an amazing assortment of cool supporting characters that leave a lasting impact as well. Mark Ivanir portrays the highly emotionally Dynes’ “landlord”/neighbor/owner who rents them “their home,” which is an empty office space. Then there is the pregnant Kelli Medford played by Rachel Redleaf, who pays Old Dolio to attend her state-mandated welfare classes about expectant mothers. However, not to be outdone there is the outrageous hot tub salesman played by Adam Bartley and the memorable mini mart cashier played by David Ury. When small supporting roles standout, you know the filmmaker cares about depth and delivering a quality layered film. Just great casting all-around. It’s surprisingly seductive kind of like “Napoleon Dynamite,” where the surreal strangeness is completely hypnotic and maintains Miranda July’s unique touch.
The delightful deadpan humor and family atmosphere reminds me of “The Brothers Bloom” meets “Paper Moon” with the sensibilities of a Wes Anderson film. “Kajillionaire” is the most exceptionally entertaining and quirky film of the year! Another way to examine the movie is imagine an “Ocean’s 11” film with the most outrageous, oddball family attempting a hilarious heist with the moral compass of the “Parasite” family. The eccentric entertainment might not be for everyone, but for those who connect can rest assured they will love this well-told transcendent story. Miranda July’s honest, peculiar picture is what watching movies are all about. “Kajillionaire” is a tender, thought-provoking comedy and the epitome of what movie gems should be. Top 5 Movie of 2020!
4 out of 4 stars
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Focus Features will release KAJILLIONAIRE in select theaters on September 25th, 2020.