Content Note: abusive parents
Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood) lives with her parents Robert (Richard Jenkins) and Theresa (Debra Winger). They live rather unconvetionally, getting their money through full-time grifting. But their small crookery is never really enough and they dream of making it big some day. When Robert and Theresa meet Melanie (Gina Rodriguez) by chance, they ask her to join them for a big heist they’re planning. This throws Old Dolio completely for a loop and none of their lives will remain unchanged by that decision.
Kajillionaire looks like a comedy, and it often is funny, but there is an underlying sadness to it that really makes the film. I really liked the mix and the film.
Kajillionaire shows a very unusual family, one that seems devoid of any love. There is certainly no trust. And July perfectly balances the antics of the family’s heists with the sadness of this state of affairs. One does wonder how Old Dolio’s parents got so damn screwed up, and one marvels that Old Dolio seems to, somehow, managed to get a less bleak worldview than them.
In the end she gets the chance for a new start at a life that involves trust and love, even if it might be too late for her parents to really change their ways. After all that came before it, it’s a beautifully hopeful note to end the film on and I’m rooting for Old Dolio and Melanie.
Evan Rachel Wood is fantastic. She has a lot to carry in this film and I’m sure it’s not easy to play a character like Old Dolio, so filled with cynicism and naivité, a character that fights to her last breath to retain empathy and kindness in a world that demands of her to give it up. Rodriguez was really good as well (though her role was probably a little easier) and I liked the chemistry between the two.
Overall, I really enjoyed the film, and I was glad that it was my last film at the Viennale this year – it was a nice final film, wrapping up a good year of the festival for me.
Summarizing: strange and engaging.