Emily the criminal

Emily the criminal
Original title:Emily the criminal
Director:John Patton Ford
Running time:93 minutes
Release date:12 august 2022
Penniless and drowning in debt, Emily is reduced to joining a credit card scamming ring and gradually plunges into the criminal underworld of Los Angeles, not without negative consequences.

Mulder's Review

Of the twenty or so films discovered this year at the Deauville American Film Festival, one really stands out and it's not surprising that it leaves with the Prix du Public de la Ville de Deauville. Emily The Criminal establishes John Patton Ford as an emerging and gifted director. 

While most of the first films are imperfect and often lack an impeccable editing, John Patton Ford signs here a thriller with a perfect rhythm and benefiting from the presence of the actress Aubrey Plaza (also producer) in the female lead role. In the same way, the scenario allows to put forward the theme of the important debts accumulated by many students to pay their higher education. This important social fact easily reinforces the psychology of the young Emilie (Aubrey Plaza) who is not able to get by financially between her job as a delivery girl and her apartment that she shares with two other people. Following a tip from one of her co-workers, she decides, despite her initial misgivings, to join a network of credit card scammers who buy products with fake credit cards and driver's licenses. While she proves to be quite good at business, she gradually sinks into a criminal and mafia milieu and has to face dangerous consequences and above all find a way out.

American cinema often tends to do too much and to propose imposing scenes to mask the weaknesses of the scenario that are too visible. The director and screenwriter John Patton Ford has only one short film to his credit, Patrol (2010), but here he shows an undeniable ability to set up a gripping and original plot, and above all to show a more realistic face of the city of Los Angeles, far from its touristy and angelic neighborhoods. While Emily has always acted within the law, she decides to cross the white line to get out of it financially. She's not a true criminal who takes great pleasure in getting rich and building an empire. She just wants to pay off her debts and find a job so she can live decently. Emily also has to deal with mistakes from her past that led to her doing favors for her friends and ending up with a criminal record. 

The first scene of the film showing her in the middle of a job interview demonstrates the director's perfect sense of timing and above all shows us how the world of work is not a clean one, as some people have been lured into a job or are ready to do anything to succeed, even using their relatives to climb the social ladder more quickly. When Emily's friend offers her a job in her company, she doesn't tell her that it's an unpaid internship. We understand all the more Emily's attitude to take control of her life even if it means going to the wrong side of the law.

The director John Patton Ford also proves to have a real director's eye and describes with care this clandestine universe of swindlers taking advantage of the poverty of certain people to use them in their misappropriations and to enrich themselves. The network of Youcef (Théo Rossi) who employs Emily is not without danger as she will realize when she wants to buy a sports car. Every scene in the film has real importance and makes Emily the criminal a real hypnotic thriller making us want Emily to get out of it. 

The success of the film is due to the actress Aubrey Plaza who finds here one of her best roles. Known in particular for the series Legion (2017-019) but also films such as The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman (2013), Dirty Grandpa (2016), Child's Play (2019), this actress has always been convincing in each of her roles. She gives a real dramatic dimension to her character and makes the audience follow her journey with real attention. 

Emily the criminal is definitely my favorite film this year of the Deauville American Film Festival. A film that really makes you want to applaud and hope not to wait too many years to discover the second film of director John Patton Ford. Released last August in the United States and distributed by Vertical Entertainment and Roadside Attractions, we hope that this film will also be released in France.

Emily the criminal
Written and directed by John Patton Ford
Produced by Tyler Davidson, Aubrey Plaza, Drew Sykes
Starring Aubrey Plaza, Theo Rossi, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Gina Gershon
Music by Nathan Halpern
Cinematography: Jeff Bierman
Edited by Harrison Atkins 
Production companies: Low Spark Films, Fear Knot Productions, Evil Hag Productions
Distributed by Vertical Entertainment, Roadside Attractions (United States), Universal Pictures (International)
Release date : January 24, 2022 (Sundance), August 12, 2022 (United States)
Running time : 93 minutes

Seen on September 9, 2022 at the Deauville international centre

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