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Review: Emily The Criminal Lays Aubrey Plaza's Doubters To Rest

Emily The Criminal works for one reason and one reason only, and that is Aubrey Plaza. She takes an absurd premise and brings an intensity to the role that elevates everything around her. Plaza has long been one of the most underrated actresses around, and though the film around her is not the best, her performance should finally get people on the Aubrey Plaza train.

Aubrey Plaza in Emily The Criminal. Credit: Roadside Attractions/Vertical Entertainment
Aubrey Plaza in Emily The Criminal. Credit: Roadside Attractions/Vertical Entertainment

Emily The Criminal Would Suffer Without Plaza

Emily (Plaza) is struggling to get by in Los Angeles, working a low-level catering to pay back over $70,000 in student loans, even though she never finished college. A friend gives her a number to text, and when she does, the other side offers her a chance to make a quick $200. She responds and is brought into the world of dummy buying, using fake credit cards to make expensive purchases. She becomes close to one of the leaders (Theo Rossi), and together they decide to strike out on their own since "Emily The Criminal" comes more naturally to her than "Emily The 9-5'er." Like what happens to most in that life, things go downhill and fast.

Within the first five minutes, Plaza has you in the palm of her hand. Her Emily is so intense and driven, yet beaten down by everything life has thrown her way. We see her in two separate job interviews, and from the start, you can see an intensity in her eyes, something telling us a fuse was just lit. We wait, and the heartbreaking minutes go by, knowing that she is going to blow it, even if she may be right. Doesn't matter; it hurts the same. We never stop rooting for her, even as she falls deeper and deeper into the criminal life she can't get away from, yet is so good at.

It is a shame the film around her isn't much stronger. Rossi is the other lead here, and while he is okay here, it is across from a juggernaut. He seems content just to hold on. The biggest problem is the premise itself. Are people really out there just answering texts like that and meeting shady people asking them to do crime? And for such little money? Emily is broke, sure, but man, that is a big leap. Director John Patton Ford is making his debut here and does a pretty good job, but he needed another 20 minutes to let the story breathe a bit more; it moves a little too fast.

Emily The Criminal is the Aubrey Plaza show, though, and in that regard, it succeeds completely. This is worth watching for her alone.

Emily The Criminal

Emily The Criminal Lays Aubrey Plaza's Doubters To Rest {Review}
Review by Jeremy Konrad

Emily The Criminal would be a pretty average crime thriller, if not for the wonderful performance from Aubrey Plaza. Hopefully this is the role that makes her as a dramatic actress.

Release Date
August 12, 2022
John Patton Ford
Production by
Low Spark Films, Fear Knot Productions, Evil Hag Productions
Distributed by
Vertical Entertainment, Roadside Attractions

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Jeremy KonradAbout Jeremy Konrad

Jeremy Konrad has written about collectibles and film for almost ten years. He has a deep and vast knowledge of both. He resides in Ohio with his family.
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