The potent performance by Audrey Plaza in first-time director John Patton Ford’s Emily the Criminal has you empathizing with her character even as she makes terrible choices. Emily, a Jersey transplant in Los Angeles is working off a mountain of student debt with no end in sight, and a few minor criminal offenses in the past tank her chance for a better-paying job. As reviewer Chad Byrnes writes in his review, “this taut thriller might feel like a Sundance indie but it’s got the heart of a 70’s character study.” Byrnes also notes that the film includes “several nerve-wracking moments that are reminiscent of some of the great crime films of the past few decades. Michael Mann and The Safdie Brothers would be impressed with Ford’s ability to balance action, social commentary, and character analysis in the same film, and on such a meager budget.”
Plaza is well-known for her sardonic comedic turns in Parks and Recreation and a slew of indie comedies, and there isn’t a moment in Criminal when she doesn’t convey Emily’s angst and unpredictability as she turns to criminal scams to make ends meet.
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