Get ready for Aubrey Plaza as you’ve never seen her before. One of my favorite films at Sundance this year was Emily the Criminal, a gritty, streetwise crime flick about a Los Angeles woman, struggling with debt, who becomes a major player in a credit card scam.
But this is no poor man’s Scarface. Plaza’s character Emily is just a regular working class woman who, like so many of us, is barely able to piece together a living. Her situation gets worse when she discovers just how deep in credit card debt she really is, and that desperation leads her to take a chance in something she knows is illegal. But when it pays off, it becomes very hard to quit.
The film also stars Luke Cage actor Theo Rossi, one of the best at playing shady underworld types, along with Megalyn Echikunwoke and Gina Gershon. John Patton Ford wrote the script and made his directorial debut, an impressive outing which I said “feels like you are watching something that has been going on unseen right under your nose.” It’s also the best performance by Plaza that I’ve seen, and she deserves all of the praise that I and others have been heaping on her.
Emily the Criminal opens on August 12th.
Emily (Aubrey Plaza) is saddled with student debt and locked out of the job market due to a minor criminal record. Desperate for income, she takes a shady gig as a “dummy shopper,” buying goods with stolen credit cards supplied by a handsome and charismatic middleman named Youcef (Theo Rossi). Faced with a series of dead-end job interviews, Emily soon finds herself seduced by the quick cash and illicit thrills of black-market capitalism, and increasingly interested in her mentor Youcef. Together, they hatch a plan to bring their business to the next level in Los Angeles.