Jacob Richardson | 19/10/2020
A quirky romantic comedy that draws you ever deeper into a complete adoration of its strange world.
Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood) works the criminal heist scene with her parents Theresa (Debra Winger) and Robert (Richard Jenkins). Don’t be fooled though - this trio only takes what they need / can get. There are no major bank heists here; instead, as Robert says, they just ‘skim’. When her parents invite Melanie (Gina Rodriguez) in on their heists, however, Old Dolio starts to see the manipulative hold her parents have on her for what it really is. As her and Melanie form more and more of a bond, Kajillionaire questions whether Old Dolio can ever truly break free of her parents’ influence.
Kajillionaire is incredibly quirky. With many scenes shot with a wide lens, bending the edges of the frame inwards and making the screen almost bulge with the muted beigery of the film, it feels like a weird indie piece that might not have mass appeal. Similarly, with character names like ‘Old Dolio’, a wall that oozes soap suds every couple of hours, and costumes that feel ripped right from your local thrift store, Kajillionaire is every bit the Sundance / TIFF indie darling you can tell your less film-literate friends about with smugness. What all of this hides, however, is a truly heartwarming tale played to perfection by Evan Rachel Wood.
The film starts slow, with some of the oddities not quite hitting or feeling forced. But as we get to know these characters, we see more. We see how Robert and Theresa take advantage of their daughter, depriving her of a normal life in service of their way of living. We see how Melanie and Old Dolio start to develop feelings for one another. And we see how difficult it is for Old Dolio to create any space for herself to leave this toxic situation. The humor gets progressively funnier too as these relationships and psyches are defined, and while early on you might only chuckle, by the end a few belly laughs are certain.
The conclusion is smart, funny and heartwarming all wrapped up in one, and leaves a lasting impact that casts a rosy glow over the entirety of the picture. This is a indie darling, but it also has mainstream appeal for those willing to give it a chance - a funny, heartfelt, weird, wacky and wonderful film about strength, love and the smallest of small time heists.
Kajillionaire is a gem.