There is not a possible way you can talk about Kajillionaire without talking about Miranda July. As a multi-talented artist, July is known for various works such as her performance art, short stories, and of course her films. Her three feature-length films represent a step in her career as an artist, ever progressing and morphing into something unusual and even sometimes, uncomfortable. It isn’t the family of con artists’ dynamic or the fact they all live in an old office that leaks bubbles every day like clockwork or their strange world view on parenting, it’s Old Dolio who is the beating heart of the story, the daughter, played by Evan Rachel Wood who disappears so well into her role. Don’t be fooled by the clothes, the hair or even the voice, this is a character piece, by Miranda July.
Robert, Theresa and Old Dolio Dyne spend their days on small-time scams; stealing mail, getting rewards for ‘lost’ valuables, or cashing in gift certificates. But when they need to come up with back rent on the office they live in, they need money fast. While on the latest con they team up with Melanie who seems excited to be part of this peculiar family. But along the way, Old Dolio, the daughter comes to realise truths about her parents, deciding that maybe she needs to break out on her own.
There is a point where you sit back and try and realise what this woman is actually going through. Not only is she discovering who she is away from her parents, but what her life was like with them. Her reveal when she doesn’t know how to feel emotions is heartbreaking. It is even more painful when she goes through the realisation that her parents never showed any true affection towards her is the tipping point and the push she needed, but Old Dolio never reaches breaking point, she isn’t quite strong enough to express that.
A con artist family drama and personal journey all wrapped up in a very uneven package is exactly what you’d expect from July. The criticism that her own unique whimsey overpowers the story is an abrupt take on a very delicate character. Just because Old Dolio looks and dresses the way she does, doesn’t make her part of the July performance art workshop. The story has unusual characters that aren’t hard to find in real life with added quirks and discomforts, but we, the audience, have Melanie, who is on the inside of this group, taking us into their world and how they think, reflecting back what we’re thinking but can’t help but want to be included.
Dir: Miranda July
Prd: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Youree Henley
Scr: Miranda July
Cast: Evan Rachel Wood, Debra Winger, Gina Rodriguez, Richard Jenkins
DoP: Sebastian Winterø
Music: Emile Mosseri
Runtime: 106 minutes