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Laramie Movie Scope:
Emily the Criminal

An artist breaks bad

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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December 6, 2022 – Emily (played by Aubrey Plaza of “Ingrid Goes West”) is an under-employed woman burdened by crushing student loan debt from the expense of getting an art degree. She also can't get a good job because of her criminal past.

Her criminal past consists of a DUI and felony assault charge. She says her mistake was that she didn't go far enough with the assault. If she had scared the guy enough, he never would have dare to call the police. She won't make that mistake again.

This movie reminds me a bit of “The Limey” (1999) and “You're Next” (2009). Like those movies, this movie features a harmless-looking protagonist, Emily, who is tougher than she looks, and everyone keeps underestimating her. An aspiring artist, there is a telling scene in the movie when she interviews for a art design job, which turns out to be an internship.

Emily immediately turns the tables on her would-be employer, Alice (Gina Gershon) expressing her utter contempt for someone who expects her to work full time for no salary. Alice says, “You do realize this is a very competitive position?” Emily replies, “Yeah, sure. I understand that. What I don't understand is how you feel so comfortable asking someone to work without pay.”

Alice tries to tell Emily that she had it rough starting out, but Emily isn't having it. Alice finally says, “Clearly you're a bit spoiled ... Let me be frank with you. You don't belong here.” Emily replies, “Hey, if you want to tell me what to do, put me on the fucking payroll.”

It is a great scene, which shows Alice is totally out of touch with modern student debt reality. Alice is clearly used to dealing with women who have the financial support to be able to work for years without pay and without even the guarantee of a paid salary at the end of a lengthy internship. She thinks those who can't afford to work for free are “spoiled.” What a diva!

Emily is tough enough to work with hardened, violent criminals. In one scene, a crook tries to rip her off with a knife to her neck. He steals her money, and a dog she is taking care of for a friend. She gets up off the floor and goes after the crook, armed with nothing but a taser. This isn't the only crook who made the mistake of underestimating her.

Emily works delivering food, a low-paying gig economy job. One day, she agrees to take another worker's shift as a favor, and in return he gives her a phone number of a risky illegal business that allows her to make up to $2,000 in an hour. It turns out that she can, indeed, make that much money that quick, but it is dangerous work. It is a business based on credit card fraud.

Her employers are Youcef (Theo Rossi of “Army of the Dead”) and Khalil (Jonathan Avigdori of “The Lincoln Lawyer”) who gives the appearance of being a dangerous man. Youcef takes a liking to Emily and shows her how to make fake credit cards and fake I.D.s, and how to sell the goods she buys to make money.

When Khalil finds out about Youcef's deal with Emily, he gets angry, and their joint business goes up in smoke. Youcef saw this coming and had planned to steal the money and goods from Khalil, but Khalil got there first. Youcef is left with nothing for his years of work. But Emily has a plan to get the money back. Youcef, taken aback at the audacity and danger of her plan, says to Emily, “You're a very bad influence.”

Aubrey Plaza is just incredible in the lead performance. She's just a skinny little thing, but she really makes you believe that she can hold her ground with bigger, tougher guys. She also makes you believe that she has real steel inside her. She can take a beating, and keep coming. She makes you believe that she will do whatever is necessary to get ahead.

Writer/director John Patton Ford really knows how to maintain suspense in a film, and this movie is loaded with suspense, and surprises. This is one of the year's best films. It rates an A.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff (no extra charges apply). I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2022 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)

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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at dalek three zero one nine at gmail dot com [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]