Movie Review: Emily the Criminal (2022)

Title: Emily the Criminal
Release Date: August 12, 2022
Director: John Patton Ford
Production Company:Low Spark Films | Fear Knot Productions | Evil Hag Productions

Emily Benetto (Aubrey Plaza) lives in Los Angeles and struggles with making ends meet as an independent contractor for a catering firm. She’s burdened by student debt and unable to get a better-paying job because of a felony assault conviction on her record which also prevented her from completing college. A co-worker gives her a tip on how to “earn $200 in one hour,” which turns out to be acting as a dummy shopper to buy luxury goods with stolen credit card information.

As her personal situation becomes more desperate, Emily returns to credit card fraud with bigger and bigger jobs.  She also strikes up a romance with Youcef (Theo Rossi of Luke Cage fame), one of the leaders of the credit card fraud ring.  Without ever being preachy, Emily the Criminal exposes the ills of capitalism such as crushing student debt, the gig economy, unpaid internships, and other exploitative labor practices.  Plaza is a very recognizable celebrity but she expertly fades into her role as an Everywoman who seems vulnerable but has an inner toughness when needed. As a crime film, the tension around these arguably low-stakes crimes feels stronger than in a lot of mobster movies.

Rating: ***

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