‘Emily The Criminal’ Review – Sundance 2022

Emily the Criminal: Directed by: John Patton Ford

SYNOPSIS: Emily, who is down on her luck and saddled with debt gets involved in a credit card scam that pulls her into the criminal underworld of Los Angeles, ultimately leading to deadly consequences.

I was instantly hooked on seeing this film with the prospect of seeing Aubrey Plaza flex her acting alone. She is the best part of this film. She flexes her always evident sarcasm throughout while also proving that she has major acting chops when it comes to the drama genre. The other performances are pretty effective as well, I tend to enjoy Theo Rossi in this film. Maybe I’m biased because I loved him in Sons of Anarchy, but I still think he was pretty good. There is nothing extremely compelling about the supporting performances, they are all rather run of the mill, but without Plaza, this film wouldn’t work nearly as well.

I really enjoyed the writing of this film on all levels. The comedy hits, a lot of that thanks to Plaza’s performance. I wouldn’t classify this as a dark comedy, but there is nothing light about it at all. I think the thing that is the most effective and works the best is the balance between those lights and darks. The ability to shift from comedy to drama is so seamless and comfortable that it works. The story is incredibly compelling and takes you through a deep and twisted through line while also being a grounded and simple story at the core.

John Patton Ford did some really good things here. This was his first major feature as a director and writing and just killed it overall. We have already touched on the writing, going in depth on how, while not pushing the boundaries, was incredibly effective in towing the line between comedy and drama. The direction is also pretty good here as well. The cinematography is nice, the performances were great and you can credit some of that to the direction and the vision. I was very impressed by what I saw from Ford and everyone else involved.

FINAL: Emily the Criminal is a nicely balanced film that tows the line between comedy and drama with absolute ease. The performances are great but Aubrey Plaza really shines, showing that she is one of the most underrated actresses working in Hollywood today. Intense action and enthralling drama keep you captivated from start to finish and never let up until the end. The writing overall is solid and the direction packs a nice punch. A film that needs to be respected and watched because it is a truly good time at the movies. 

Point Breakdown:

15 for Writing: 11

15 for Performances: 12

10 for Entertainment: 8

10 for Direction: 8

10 for Emotions: 7

5 for Cinematography: 4

5 for Score: 4

5 for Pacing: 5

15 for Technical: 14

5 for Rewatchability: 5

5 for Automatic: 5

Emily the Criminal: 83/100 | Grade: B-

Jack Lautaret is a banana meter approved film critic, the founder of the Jack Lautaret YouTube Channel and host of the Finatic Film Review Podcast. He is a member of the Online Film and Television Association. Twitter: @JackLautaret

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