Kajillionaire (2020)

I was reading Allie's post about female directors of 2020 when I realised two things: first, I haven't seen a lot of 2020 releases; second, and most importantly, the majority of those I've seen were directed by men. So, since both she and Brittani praised Miranda July's Kajillionaire, I decided to start with it. And I am very glad I did as the comedy-drama is just as brilliant and touching as I was expecting it to be. 

The film opens with three people waiting at a bus stop. The young woman suddenly goes into a military-like routine that allows her to sneaks unseen into a post office to steal a parcel. We soon learn that she is named Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood) and that she and her parents, Theresa (Debra Winger) and Robert (Richard Jenkins), are a family of small-time con artists who get by mainly by sealing packages and returning stolen goods for refunds. They live in an old office rented by a bubble factory and, while they are not charged a lot in cash, they have to wipe down the wall three times a day as a pink foam creeps down. 

When they win a trip to New York, they decide to pull off their best heist yet — on their way home, Theresa and Robert would take all the three luggage, Old Dolio would claim the airport lost her luggage and they would get away with the travel insurance money. 

On their flight home though, they met a talkative young woman, Melanie (Gina Rodriguez), who soon becomes part of the family as she helps them pull off new heists, but ends up disrupting the family's balance.

Kajillionaire tells an engaging, funny and yet heart-wrenching story about toxic parenting and co-depending young adults, as well as a beautiful, moving and very unique love story. It is not perfect as some bits are slow and tedious, and a scene towards the ending should have not existed, but these are flaws I am willing to overlook as this is a character-driven film, and director and writer Miranda July did a very good job. 

The lead, Old Dolio, is arguably the most fascinating character. She is a very bizarre, shy and awkward 26-year-old who moves and acts like a 16-year-old. She has known nothing but co-dependency her entire life. She never got any affection whatsoever from her parents — she is more like a partner-in-crime than a daughter to them, someone who helps them pull off their heist — and yet she has never questioned their parenting nor her relationship with them. They fucked her up so bad that when she eventually starts seeking emotional nourishment, she feels weak and ashamed for it. Which makes her growth, her learning how to love and be loved back incredibly beautiful. Evan Rachel Wood is mesmerizing as she completely disappears into her role — not only she pitches her voice to a dull monotone, but she perfectly embodies the character's emotional trauma and resiliency. 

The other characters, while they aren't as complex nor developed, are still quite unique and interesting, and the credits entirely go to the actors. Debra Winger and Richard Jenkins are both terrific in the role of the narcissistic, scheming parents. As for Gina Rodriguez, she gives a charming, vibrant performance in the role of the talkative and empathic Melanie, and her chemistry with Wood is just beautiful.

I was also a fan of the score by Emile Mosseri, and I found the song in the final scene to be spot on as it makes the moment even more touching. 

Ultimately, Kajillionaire is a great film, the kind that will make you laugh one minute and cry the next one. It is the kind of film that makes you appreciate and be grateful for every little good thing you have in your life. In other words, we need more films like this. 


  1. Yeah, invites emotions from all angles.Engaging.

  2. I have heard so many good things about this one. Unfortunately they are slow getting a screener out to me. But I did see where it was available to rent so I think I'm going that route.

  3. Ah I'm so glad you enjoyed this! Weird movies like this can be so hit and miss . Next year I'm definitely making a bigger effort to watch more movies directed by women :)

    1. Same. I even wrote it down on my goal page of my 2021 bullet journal haha.