From director Miranda July and starring Rachel Evan Wood, Richard Jenkins, Debra Winger and Gina Rodriguez comes Kajillionaire.
This crime comedy-drama follows the Dyne family. This strange family of delinquents live day to day scrounging off of the debris of civilisation believing they are above it all.
They can’t or more likely won’t make any money and are the lowest of the low. They come up with insidious ways to make money, not caring for those they hurt along the way, in particular, Old Dolio (Wood) who has the unenviable task of coming up with the cons and the majority of the time enacting them.
After one disastrous con, the Dynes meet Melanie (Rodriguez) who ingratiates herself onto Robert (Jenkins) and Theresa (Winger). Melanie finds their lifestyle fascinating and wanting to live on the edge she gives them new avenues to explore with their cons. What entails is one of the strangest and most tragic films of 2020.
Kajillionaire – the long con
Before I begin I just have one thing that has irked me since I finished watching Kajillionaire. This is not a comedy. Watching this film I couldn’t help but feel a sense of almost constant sorrow. In my eyes, the story of Old Dolio is one of indifference.
The main practitioners of this indifference are Robert and Theresa. They are a highlight for this reason in my eyes because both Jenkins and Winger are so deplorable that you can’t take your eyes off them. They are delusional, mean-spirited and have ruined their daughter.
Rodriguez’ Melanie is a welcome addition adding some levity to the events with her devilish charm. She is morbidly curious about the Dynes and their way of life and her back and forth with Old Dolio is a touching relationship. It starts off as something quite adversarial but evolves over the course of the film.
On the topic of Old Dolio, Wood is compelling in the role. You feel like this is a person deprived of the simplest of joys, loyalty and unconditional love. She hungers for it, she’s desperate for it but at the same time, she doesn’t understand it. It’s a tragic and moving point the film makes.
If I had another grievance it came from Wood’s odd choice in accent. It took me out of the film at times but that could just be a personal issue. There are also pacing issues in the films third act. I honestly wasn’t sure whether or not it was going to stick its intended landing but though there were a few wobbles it did.
To accompany this strange and alien life Old Dolio lives with her family is an equally strange score. It’s otherworldly and fits the family and world they occupy suitably.
Kajillionaire is a strange film. It’s barely a comedy but it is tragic and moving and memorable for all the right reasons. With several moving performances and a story that you don’t expect it is definitely a film to look out for.
Kajillionaire is in cinemas across Northern Ireland now. It will also hit Irish cinemas when they eventually re-open.
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