Emily the Criminal

(2022) *** R
93 min. Vertical Entertainment/Roadside Attractions. Director: John Patton Ford. Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Theo Rossi, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Gina Gershon, John Billingsley.

/content/films/5207/1.jpgJohn Patton Ford's crime drama largely feels cut from the cloth of the neorealists as it essays the deceptive downward spiral of a strong-willed food service worker (Aubrey Plaza's Emily) seduced into a credit-card fraud scheme. Emily's life of quiet desperation finds hope in the quick cash of her new underground enterprise as a "dummy shopper" equipped with stolen credit cards and fake IDs. A parallel plot thread tracks Emily's search for legit work, including job interviews with bosses played by Gina Gershon and John Billingsley. Brisk pacing and strong acting all around, particularly from the reliably grounded Plaza, anchor Ford's compelling dramatization of the strain the American economy puts on the indebted class of gig workers, and the lengths people may find themselves going to in the face of dwindling options.

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