KAJILLIONAIRE

Sometimes, it is the little bizarre things that add up to create something exemplary.

Director Miranda July crafted a film based upon plot rather than vignettes of character and one driven by broken characters and treating their suffering with humorous and touching moments. It is challenging to come across a feature nowadays that makes one feel sympathy for these particular characters (unless validated by extreme violence or disturbing images).

The film presents us with a small family of con artists: Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood), Robert (Richard Jenkins), and Theresa (Debra Winger) looking for new “Get Rich Quick” schemes. They scope out and gather a package from a bank, finding nothing money-related except a fancy blue tie. Meanwhile, they live behind a bubble factory and must put up with pink suds overflowing the wall to maintain space. When trying to create scenarios of them obtaining money somehow, they work cohesively, but they are not precisely in the same boat emotionally.

Old Dolio, for example, is a timid person trying to hide with her baggy clothes and Rapunzel-like hair continually. She craves proper attention from her mother but fails to receive any. July gives her a purpose here, something to look forward to once all is said and done. Wood does not disappoint here, basking in an entanglement of painful emotions and trying to unravel them one step at a time.

It becomes more evocative once the family coincidentally stumbles upon a young outgoing woman Melanie (Gina Rodriguez), on a plane ride in hoping she can help them scam airline luggage and land $1575 (a little over the demanded amount they must pay their landlord). Old Dolio begins to question her presence and feels out of place with the family, going so far to relinquish the money they received to be acknowledged by her mother.

She then starts to expose more of herself and her needs to Melanie, and they become remarkably close. The humanity aspect July implores in is quite comedic, but very realistic. In a sense, the director subtly implies that we open ourselves to those we are genuinely connected to, and not continue to shy away. When Old Dolio and Melanie head to the bathroom, which has a broken light, it becomes a moment of a powerful reflection amplified by the darkness and tremor-like background noise.

What July has effectively shown us is that people can still find ways to express themselves to others despite different backgrounds and identities. At the heart of this story, Kajillionaire is about two people from different backgrounds, becoming friends. Sure, money may be a big problem that plagues them and the family Old Dolio is with, but sometimes the price of friendship is unparalleled to the cost of an external object.

There is a voice heard in this feature, and instead of casting it aside, let your guard down and embrace it for once.       

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