Miranda July’s Kajillionaire

I wanted so so badly to love Kajillionaire, and I tried many times but each new plot turn, scene of impenetrable human behaviour and sequence of forced eccentricity drew me further and further out of it until I felt wholly excluded from its brand of off kilter weirdness, an unearthly indie timbre that I could personally find no rhyme, reason or discernible profundity in. It’s sad because there’s four wonderful actors and an attempt at some kind of story full of existential meandering and humour drier than a soup cracker left in the sun, but simply none of it landed for me. Richard Jenkins and Debra Winger play a couple of terminally odd career petty thieves who have raised their daughter Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood) to be just like them, and as such have a strange, stilted codependency dynamic. They rent out an empty office space next to a, um, ‘bubble factory’ and called their kid Old Dolio after a homeless dude of the same name as part of some legal con. They live a bizarre outsider’s existence until a newcomer they meet on a plane (Gina Rodriguez) drives a wedge between them all as the parents recruit her for their latest scheme. Wood plays her role with a husky voiced, awkwardly tomboyish approach, someone who is clearly the product of unconventional parents who didn’t raise her quite right. Rodriguez, so effective in stuff like Annihilation and Deepwater Horizon, is lovely here and the closest we get to a real human performance but she’s mired in obtuse dialogue, brittle character interaction and the overall deliberate strangeness of the narrative. Nothing quite makes sense, none of the people speak, act or intermingle like actual human beings would and it all just feels… off. There’s something in here about how stiff pragmatism and emotional coldness can derail a life and how it takes someone with an actual personality to ground someone back to planet earth, as we see in the sometimes sweet, sometimes brusque but ultimately perplexing relationship between Wood and Rodriguez but it’s lost in a sea of puzzling acting choices, nonsensical dialogue and peculiar editing. In attempting something along the lines of a quaint Wes Anderson-y, Michel Gondry-esque bit of whimsy, filmmaker Miranda July has wandered into a dimension whose vernacular, cosmic laws and artistic language I could simply not identify with and as a viewer I felt stranded in a void. I’m sure to many this dimension rang true to and they were able to get enjoyment from it. I certainly hope so, but it sadly did little for me.

-Nate Hill


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