Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Aubrey Plaza excels as a budding criminal


 It's time that we saw women as capable of playing characters facing stark moral challenges as they're pushed into illegal activity by financial strain, an unforgiving employment market, and no small amount of personal rage. Aubrey Plaza hits the target with just such a character in Emily the Criminal, a drama about an aspiring artist whose felony record locks her out of the job market. To keep herself afloat, Emily delivers food for a caterer, a gig-economy job that barely helps reduce her lingering student debt load. Director John Patton Ford, who also wrote the screenplay, engineers a crime story that makes Emily part of a credit-card fraud scheme. She works for Youcef (a fine Theo Rossi), a guy who plans to use his ill-gotten gains to buy his way into the legit  economy. Plaza gives Emily the kind of furious strength that keeps her from being pushed around. Ford captures Los Angeles's low-rent side while carefully detailing Emily's criminal activity. Plaza's performance burns through some late-picture improbabilities, not to mention the fact that she gives Emily -- an East Coast transplant to Los Angeles --a great Jersey accent. Always an achievement. (Yes, I grew up in New Jersey).

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