Kajillionaire starts as a simple unassuming story about a family of grifters. The Dynes solely focus on small-time scams because trying to be a kajillionaire is “how they get you hooked”.
The premise of this movie isn’t much. But Miranda July finds a way to make it compelling – every scene is important that a word, gesture, and interaction becomes a plot point.
Old Dolio is exposed to situations that reveal how dysfunctional her upbringing is – she was taught how to forge a signature before she learned how to write. In one sad and funny scene, Melanie and The Dynes pretend to act like a regular suburban family going about their day, while a lonely dying old man listens to the sounds of cutlery and conversations in the bedroom.
Melanie is the main trigger behind these realizations and she helps Old Dolio discover her codependent relationship with her parents. Evan Rachel Wood is amazing in this role as a psychologically and emotionally stunted young woman, whose entire life has been so programmed she can identify which supermarket aisle you can safely steal from based on the cameras’ blind spot.
Kajillionaire is a contrived wacky movie. But performances from its cast keep the story grounded.
At the surface, Kajillionaire is an emotional coming-of-age tale that builds up to a gut-punching climax. Underneath is a movie about relationships.
Old Dolio is an introvert who learns to escape her parents’ cynical world. They have a warped view of tough love that’s used for their own validation. She’s helped by Melanie who realizes that the best things in life lie in intangible gifts.
In the end, Old Dolio and Melanie learn what truly matters the most to them. Genuine connections aren’t made through an exchange, it’s in the ways we fulfill each other without expectations.
Kajillionaire is an off-beat examination of connection and an emotional coming-of-age tale with an intricate plot, great performances, and smart script.