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Reviewed for Shockya.com and BigAppleReviews.net, linked from Rotten Tomatoes by Harvey Karten
Director: John Patton Ford
Screenwriter: John Patton Ford
Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Theo Rossi, Jonathan Avigdori, Kim Yarbrough, Gina Gershon, Bernardo Badillo, Wesley Han
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 2/8/22
Opening: August 12, 2022

So what is going on in the world these days? The Russians are exploiting the Ukrainians, the Chinese are after Taiwan, President Biden is sticking his head out of al Queda. You can’t trust those foreigners. But can you at least trust your own fellow citizens? Not at all, according to John Patton Ford, whose “Emily the Criminal” is her stunning debut, one that makes the most of Aubrey Plaza’s talents in the title role. Although she appears largely in comedies, Plaza, whose last appearance was in “Operations Fortune: Ruse de guerre,” which involves a mission to sell dangerous weapons technology, is the kind of woman many feminists might admire, though there may be good reasons to watch calmly. in her situation and refuse to present her as a role model.

Emily (Aubrey Plaza) is in dire financial straits. Although she is a talented artist, she doesn’t have much idea how to pay off $70,000 in student debt. And she didn’t even get her bachelor’s degree from her, she had to drop out after a felony assault conviction. She now understands how difficult it is to enter the labor market; Never mind that there may be a shortage of workers across the country. Exploited by her employer at the restaurant, who considers her an independent contractor rather than an employee, she is an archetypal gig worker, unable to secure steady employment in her field of art and design that could help pay off her debt. She blows up with the interviewers when she sits across the desk from Alice (Gina Gershon), who offers her an unpaid internship for at least six months while her good friend Liz (Megalyn Echikunwoke) has an advertising job that landed her a trip to beautiful Portugal. .

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You can’t blame Emily for accepting an offer rigged for her by a co-worker who pays $200 an hour with the opportunity for fast advancement if she shows she can do the job. Youcef (Theo Rossi), a gentleman whose kindness belies his work in the crime business, lures her into a credit card scheme fraught with danger, unsurprisingly when he buys a $2000 flat screen TV (no problem). ) and then a car. that last job results in a beating that requires her to think on her feet to escape the clutches of some shady characters.

“Emily the Criminal” plunges you into the plight of a young woman whose financial situation convinces her to accept an offer she couldn’t refuse. It would be hard to look to any other actress other than Plaza to evoke our sympathy and almost justify her new experiences with the underworld as a way of getting revenge on would-be exploitative employers.

97 minutes. © 2022 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online

History – B
Acting – B+
Technical – B+
Overall – B+