Kajillionaire

Gina Rodriguez and Evan Rachel Wood star in “Kajillionaire.”

Writer/director Miranda July (got to love a name like that) has a reputation and a following for the handful of films she has made. Here with “Kajillionaire,” she pleases her fans with an innovative if bizarre story of a family of grifters. The public might not find as much pleasure here as her fans do.

The daughter in the family of crooks is played by Evan Rachel Wood. I remember her from the terrifying 2003 film “13” about things that can go haywire with young girl teens. Gina Rodriguez, an actress with tons of TV work, plays a young woman who gets entangled with the criminal family. Mom and Dad are played by three-time Oscar nominee Debra Winger, who has been doing TV for the last six years, and veteran actor and two time Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins. Jenkins will be a familiar face after his career total of 115 credits.

In storytelling, with any medium in any culture, the first thing we do is make sympathetic characters. The most sympathetic character is the 26-year-old daughter. Very damaged emotionally, she acts more like an obedient robot than a vital young woman. We find it hard to bond with her.

The criminal parents named her Old Dolio after the winner of a lottery in an attempt at scamming the lottery winner of the same name. They had no success with this. In fact, for all their casual ruthlessness, the parents seem remarkably inept as confidence crooks, skimmers, and scammers. They do score high on the heartless monster category. They have raised a daughter who lacks most social skills and who has been savagely if calmly ruined. They have denied her all the ways that people cherish one another. She does not love nor do her parents expect that from her or show her the way to love. Stinkers, the pair of them.

Last week the Sawmill Theatres showed us a well-done film that made us feel good when it ended. Not this one. We want to go out to a crowded bar, one with lots of noise, life, and frivolity just to get the pall of nasty gloom off us.

“Kajillionaire” runs for one hour and 44 minutes. It carries an R rating for the worst language and constant criminal activity. Please keep the ratings in mind when you take kids to the theater.

I found “Kajillionaire” entertaining enough to award it two sawblades. We can appreciate the quality of the acting but the film is a downer.

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