Written and directed by Miranda July, with a producer credit also given to Brad Pitt, Kajillionaire is the story about Old Dolio Dyne (Evan Rachel Wood), the daughter of Theresa and Robert Dyne (Debra Winger, Richard Jenkins) who have invested in her future of being a con artist. For 26 years, that’s all she has ever known. They work together on heists in and around their home in Los Angeles and at the end of the day, they split it all equally. Until one day, during a very important heist, Theresa and Robert decide to invite a stranger to join them, which soon changes everything.
You forget that Old Dolio is their daughter. This is a massive theme in the film – of how she has lost her identity, and thinks that this is the norm for her. Soon, she begins to realise that she misses something she’s never had – affection. To be loved like any child is loved by their parents. Having to explain “they’re my parents” just shows you how indifferent she is with them, how it’s not obvious who she might be because of how everyone naturally acts with one another. But does it matter when the only purpose in your life is to con people out of money?
When you meet Melanie (Gina Rodriguez), you automatically think they’re scamming her – surely? With her posh nails, fancy phone and beautiful clothing – they would be instantly attracted to her wealth. But soon, somehow, she starts to become ‘part of the family’. But it doesn’t make sense to begin with. She is the polar opposite. To quote Kate Winslet in The Holiday, “square peg, round hole”. It just confuses you, that feeling of her not being able to fit and it becomes uncomfortable. However, gradually you see how she is with Old Dolio, how they infuse together as something different. Are they friends or are they something more?
There is an instant attraction but of what kind? She makes you question the logic behind her character, how she’s too energetic for the family, too out there, too ‘normal’. But at the same time it makes perfect sense – almost as if she’s the mother Old Dolio never had but always wanted. Warm, loving, caring and kind. Someone who cares about her feelings, someone to be close to when she’s hurt – something she could never get with her own mother. Something as small as being called ‘sweetheart’, ‘hun’ or ‘baby’ to Old Dolio, is worth a thousand dollars.
Kajillionaire is funny, satirical and quirky. It excites you, but without being too melodramatic. But at times it’s heart-breaking and tragic. It pulls you into a sense of anger as the real world becomes more visible – bringing devastating consequences to life. Rodriguez and Wood are brilliant together, effortless and dynamic as is Debra Winger and Richard Jenkins. The script is clever, fun and honest, along with the carefully edited sequences and stunning cinematography. The style of filmmaking by July is very unique, open and provides you with a sense of honesty. Kajillionaire is a remarkable film, simply beautiful and heart-warming. It’s definitely a must see – even just to take your own mind off the reality of the world right now. There can be some happiness, even if it’s just on film.