What is the price of love? That’s the question that Miranda July’s Kajillionaire sets out to explore through the film’s quirky family of con-artist grifters, with Evan Rachel Wood uniquely named Old Dolio Dyne front and center. It’s a wonderful film that will lure you into its web with its charm and obscure sense of humor.
Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood) has spent her entire life so far living on the fringes of her parents’ antics and ability to con others out of any amount of money. For them, everything is about making a buck. Robert (Richard Jenkins) and his wife Theresa (Debra Winger) are old pros at the game who learned how to take advantage of the system, but for Old Dolio it’s all she’s ever known. Following a high risk, high reward con to make the money needed for rent, the family welcomes Melanie (Gina Rodriguez) into their little circle. Robert and Theresa see her as a new opportunity to earn more money, but for Old Dolio she’s a window into a life she’s never had.
Even her name itself is a result of an attempt by her parents to con money from someone else, as you’ll find out in the film. My initial impression was that there was going to be some sort of twist to the film involving Gina Rodriguez’s character resulting in the conmen getting conned, but thankfully that was never the case. Instead, audiences are treated to a heartfelt story about one girl's attempt to feel loved. There’s a moment in the film where the family plays pretend and acts like a normal family as they con a complete stranger. Evan Rachel Wood does an amazing job during this scene as you can see the hurt and confusion sweep across her face when she realizes that this is what she actually wants from her family. They always have treated her as an accessory to a con job, not a daughter. It’s heartbreaking to watch Old Dolio not know how to react to any kind of emotional stimulus because she’s never experienced that before, and it’s Melanie who is the one who is finally able to break her free from her abusive parents.
Kajillionaire does have some weird moments and some of the characters, like the landlord who’s renting the building to the Dyne’s, are just bizarre, but it all just adds to its unique charm. The film will have you enthralled from the very beginning with its superb cast and heartwarming story. Kajillionaire isn’t your stereotypical con film. If anything, it cons you into thinking that.