John Patton Ford presents his feature debut at the Sundance Film Festival, Emily The Criminal. A riveting thriller filled with heart thumping action and, what seems to be the norm for her these days, an impeccable turn by Aubrey Plaza. Whilst also finding the time to scathingly drag capitalism, the gig economy, and student loans.
Written by Alex Gilston
Emily is a food delivery worker, in a zero hour contract job, saddled with thousands of dollars of student loan debt. Due to having to work so much to be able to pay all of this off she’s estranged from the thing she truly loves which is drawing and painting. One day a colleague gives her a number to ring where she can do a job that will make her two hundred dollars in an hour. She accepts, and through doing so slowly descends into the gritty criminal underworld of LA.
Emily The Criminal is highly engaging from the get go, the story progresses realistically. The things we learn about Emily as a character in the opening makes the choices she makes seem natural. Some of the things that happen are ramped up into the realms of unrealism for dramatic effect but you are made to care for the central character so it still works.
Aubrey Plaza gives a personal best performance as Emily, which is surprising coming off the back of Black Bear and Ingrid Goes West. Again there is a realism to her portrayal that is admirable, and she ends up being fairly badass too. There is something to be said for what the character of Emily represents. A microcosm of everyday people, who are worked to the bone to be able to survive in the real world, and the lengths that one might go to, just be able to live. Patton Ford writes this with sincerity and away from the thrilling action its thought provoking. Emily The Criminal is a thrilling roller coaster ride of a feature, and its representation of prevalent issues in today’s society elevates it beyond your generic action romp.