Emily the Criminal
Aubrey Plaza gives a career-best performance as a woman with nothing to lose in this gripping thriller about the late-capitalist lines some are willing to cross in search of the American Dream.
Saddled with a $70,000 student-loan debt she’s unable to make a dint in with her crappy catering job, Emily is desperate to make ends meet. Unfortunately, a past misdemeanour hampers her attempts at finding a better job. At her wit’s end, she accepts a tip from a colleague that leads her down a lucrative but illegal and increasingly dangerous path – a path she discovers she’s good at navigating, so long as it doesn’t destroy her.
Garnering some early comparisons to Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive (MIFF 2011) and the Safdie brothers, John Patton Ford’s satisfyingly taut debut simmers with frustration and rage. Plaza electrifies the screen in the lead role, going to even darker places than her audacious turn in Black Bear (MIFF 2020) to once again prove that her dramatic chops rival her comedic ones. She shares a palpable chemistry with co-star Theo Rossi playing an underworld boss – plus a fist-pumping scene with Gina Gershon that you’ll be quoting for days – and as Emily the character walks a dwindling moral line to who knows where, Emily the Criminal walks a vanishingly thin line between nail-biting genre film and something much more grittily realistic.
“As the eponymous antihero at the heart of John Patton Ford’s slick and smart feature debut, Plaza continues her ascension to formidable leading lady.” – IndieWire
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