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Emily The Criminal (2022)

Aubrey Plaza stars in this thriller about stepping outside of conventional society to achieve her rather minimal goals and ambitions. Due to a DUI charge in her past (the less said about the assault she fails to declare, the better) she is finding it difficult to gain what she would deem as suitable employment.

She has a job already, working in a kitchen and carrying out deliveries. It's a living, although maybe not a salubrious one. Clearly, this is not paying her enough to pay her rent. Perhaps she should spend less time in the bar and chasing more overtime instead.

Crime doesn't pay kids. Just remember that. It would seem that the decision not to employ Emily at the start of the movie would be a choice well-founded, if her subsequent actions are anything to go by. There is something to be said for a sister doing it for herself, when nobody else is prepared to give her a break, but still doesn't explain why we should either admire or root for her. Lest we forget this is not a woman on the edge. If she doesn't make rent, she still has options. They may not be very attractive to her, but her decision to commit crime instead tells us more about the character than the plot would like us to think about for too long.

And there's that assault charge that was neatly skirted over. Seems like she doesn't mind getting her hands dirty if the circumstances call for it. She still chooses easy illegal gain over the reward for long-earned hard work when her chips were, well, not down, but looking distinctly in that direction.

When she is already knee deep in nefariousness, she is offered an internship in her perfect job. There's no pay for the first six months or so, but she baulks at this, despite being offered the exact same thing as everyone else. You'd think that she might, just for a moment, think about the money she has already made illegally and how that would tide her over whilst carrying out her internship, or for that matter, continue to do this underhanded work on the side. Not Emily though, she feels she deserves better than everyone else. Whilst this takes a swing at internships per se, which I heartily agree with, it opts for crime instead, as if she has no other options, which we already know she does.

Plaza is great, she usually is, but even she can't make this woman likeable and if that was the aim, it's a hard fail. A salutary lesson to be sure that doing bad things is bad. She experiences suitable amounts of trouble as if to make the morality of the story clear at least, leaving us in no doubt as to the advisement of this endeavour, but at the same time, highlights the kind of individual required to carry it out, which Plaza shows us better than I expected she would.

Engaging throughout at a little over an hour and a half, but you get the feeling that this criminal was born and not made, so you have to wonder ultimately if a cold, uncaring society is even really to blame.


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