Sundance 2020: Kajillionaire

Evan Rachel Wood, Richard Jenkins and Debra Winger appear in Kajillionaire by Miranda July, an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. Photo by Matt Kennedy.

Kajillionaire is a heist movie that follows a family of con artists living in Los Angeles and struggling to keep a roof over their head.

Robert (Richard Jenkins) and Theresa Dyne (Debra Winger) are con artists.  They’ve raised their daughter, Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood), to follow them into the family business.  It may not be the best life but it’s the life they have for themselves.  The family owes money while also living in a bubble factory.  It isn’t the best way of living.  However, tThe quickest way to make money is to pull off a con.  The plan is to travel cross country and come back to complain of lost luggage.  If only it were this simple.  What nobody could anticipate is that they met Melanie (Gina Rodriguez) on their return flight.

It’s a complete game changer once Melanie enters the picture.  This isn’t to say that it becomes a completely different film but it changes up the status quo.  This actually becomes a good thing.  When Melanie enters the picture, Old Dolio starts to feel a bit jealous before discovering that there’s this entire world.  Her parents are treating Melanie like their own daughter and this further complicates the matter at hand.  At the same time, Melanie starts to break up what they have going on.  It’s enough that Old Dolio leaves the comfort of her parents to experience an actual life.  Not a con artist life but an actual life with freedom.  The Dyne family dynamics will never be the same.

Evan Rachel Wood completely disappears into the role of Old Dolio.  You’ll never forget this name either.  As a character, she’s never truly been allowed to live her life.  Her parents control everything.  The rules are so strict that it isn’t even funny!  It takes meeting Melanie to put Old Dolio on the path of becoming an independent woman.  This type of life is one that she’s never known yet she becomes all the better for doing so.

Let me say this about the film’s ending without giving it away.  Even though it’s an original heist movie, I kind of saw the ending coming from a mile away.  Hints get dropped here and there.  That’s not to say that it’s a bad ending because it isn’t.  I do feel that the ending suits the film.  All in all, it’s still a good film.

Only the mind of Miranda July could come up with an idea original as  Kajillionaire–a heist movie for the contemporary era.

CAST:  Evan Rachel Wood, Gina Rodriguez, Richard Jenkins, and Debra Winger

Kajillionaire held its world premiere during the 2020 Sundance Film Festival in the Premieres program. Focus Features acquired the rights.  Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.