Kajillionaire [Review]

Evan Rachel Wood, Richard Jenkins and Debra Winger appear in Kajillionaire by Miranda July, an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Matt Kennedy. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or 'Courtesy of Sundance Institute.' Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

I will be honest, writing this review might have been one of the hardest things I have to write to this day. Not because I hated the film but because of how much I found myself enjoying it and how much I ended up loving it. Putting words to why and what makes this film special was so hard that for days I found myself staring at a blank page. Kajillionaire is already out in theatres, I watched it a full month before its release date and I have no idea when this will be out. But I know I will try my damn best to say why I found Kajillionaire to be one of the most entertaining films of 2020.

Two con artists (Richard Jenkins and Debra Winger) have spent 26 years training their only daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) to swindle, scam and steal at every turn. But when a desperate and hastily conceived con fails, they charm a stranger (Gina Rodriguez) into joining them. Only, nothing goes according to plan and their whole world ends up turned upside down. If the premise sounds pretty straight forward, it’s nothing but that. Kajillionaire doesn’t pull its punches and writer-director Miranda July (The Future, Me and You and Everyone We Know) is capable of putting together a film that surprises and never fails to hit the marks it wants.

Kajillionaire’s force resides within the acting. Mostly Evan Rachel Wood (Westworld) who puts in not only one of her best performances but a performance that breaks the mould of what we are used to getting from her. Wood’s choices as Old Dolio (yes, that is the name of her character) are so unique but also work for this quirky and weird movie. Her performance brings the film altogether and without her, the film just would fall apart. Gina Rodriguez (Jane The Virgin) plays Melanie, the complete opposite of Wood’s Old Dolio so well and once she enters the film the action really begins. Both are capable of shinning beyond what the film probably intended too. They grab your attention and never let it go until the credits roll and even then, you can’t stop thinking about them.

What makes Kajillionaire so special is that even with all the weirdness and uniqueness of it, it feels real and lived in. Miranda July’s eye and timing are always top-notch and she grabs your attention from the very beginning. The film could very well have not worked. The characters are so out there and weird that it could have put off anyone but because they are so weird, it worked for me. Maybe because I felt like people like that probably exists somewhere in this insane world that we live in but I bought completely in the story that July was telling. Yes, it’s weird and quirky but it’s also about family, independence, love, abuse, it’s so much more then just a comedy and July is capable of telling so much with so little. It’s impressive really.

Kajillionaire is hard to describe, hard to put into words why it worked so well for me. I can try, hell I tried but failed to express the amount of love I have for this film. This weird niche film that deserves more attention then it is and will get. It’s a film that tries to do so much and even when it seems to fail, it doesn’t. It just works and that is in grand part because of Miranda July’s expert hand and writing. It’s impressive and I wish I could express everything I feel about this film. But don’t just read me ramble non-stop about this film, watch it, it’s worth it, I promise.

Kajillionaire is out now in select theatres and will be available on VOD starting October 16, 2020.