© 2024 KMUW
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Movie Review: 'Kajillionaire' Director Miranda July Is Weird... And That's Good

Miranda July began her career as a performance artist, but I hadn’t heard of her until she directed her first film, 2005’s Me and You and Everyone We Know, a movie that still sticks in my mind with its strangeness, charm, and empathy. She followed that up with The Future, in 2011, which was at least equally strange, but much more difficult emotionally. And now, she’s released Kajillionaire, which has been billed as a heist movie, although it’s not, exactly… although it is, sort of.


Look, Miranda July is weird. Her movies exist in a place slightly off-center from our world—people say and do things that seem like things people might say and do, but that you’ve never heard or seen before. But that weirdness can be thoroughly disarming, and July is able to take you places you didn’t know were there.


Kajillionaire stars Evan Rachel Wood as a woman who lives with her small-time con artist parents, played by Debra Winger and Richard Jenkins, two people I’m always delighted to see. It’s clear Wood has never been socialized in any way—she’s extremely odd, although it’s entirely believable that someone with no real social experience might develop the way she has. She helps her parents pull off con jobs that net them eight dollars here, 15 dollars there, all while waiting for what her father says is a looming major earthquake that will change everything. By chance they absorb another young woman into their circle, and this disrupts Wood’s vacuum-sealed social bubble.


I don’t think Miranda July makes anything hard on the viewer, but you do have to meet her where she is. And if you’ll do that, you’ll find something a little magical—she has this way of crawling into little crevices of emotion that I don’t even have names for. I don’t even feel right trying to describe it. July gets something about people and how we feel, and she comes at things from a unique angle, but she knows exactly the spot to hit. I don’t think I even want to know how she does it, I’m just glad she does.

Fletcher Powell has worked at KMUW since 2009 as a producer, reporter, and host. He's been the host of All Things Considered since 2012 and KMUW's movie critic since 2016. Fletcher is a member of the Critics Choice Association.