KAJILLIONAIRE (2020)

(HBO MAX/VOD) I’ve previously typed about how I love films about hucksters and con-artists, but this is a bit different. Miranda July’s film is all about a daughter named Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood) endlessly trying to win the affections of her parents (Richard Jenkins and Debra Winger) by participating in their endless grifter schemes, and they keep using and using her until she breaks. She finally finds some sort of solace in a potential mark named Melanie (Gina Rodriguez) who has always wanted to take part in OCEANS 11-ish hijinks, but quickly realizes it’s not quite the lark she thought it might be.

While Jenkins is brilliant as always, and Rodriguez can visually snap from cheerful to heartbroken in the blink of an eye, the film’s held together by Wood’s performance. I love her forced baritone voice and loose-fitting, masculine clothes — inferring that they wanted a son, not a daughter — and how that same voice warbles near the end of the film. Wood’s posture and physicality is also especially noteworthy, facets Old Dolio thought up to try to ingratiate herself on her unloving parents.

There’s a turn near the end of the film that you’ll see coming, but it’s still devastating, and that’s what makes it a remarkable work.

“Me, I prefer to just skim.”

“So do I!”