March 5, 2021 – Old Dolio (played by Evan Rachel Wood of “Across the Universe”) is a woman so named by small-time grifters Robert (Richard Jenkins of “The Shape of Water”) and Theresa (Debra Winger of “Rachel Getting Married”) in a failed scheme to inherit wealth.
Dolio's parents, Robert and Theresa are amoral grifters and thieves, and she is a key part of their team. The movie opens with Dolio stealing packages from a Post Office while Robert and Theresa act as lookouts. The family lives off the books in an underground office where they regularly mop up suds from an upstairs laundry as part of a deal to reduce the cost of their rent, which they seldom pay.
In one of their scams to collect insurance money, the trio runs across Melanie (Gina Rodriguez of “Annihilation”) who agrees to help them with a plan to steal money from old people.
As Melanie continues to work with the trio it becomes clear that she has a different agenda than Robert and Theresa. Melanie sees Old Dolio as a lost, lonely soul who needs to be rescued from the corrupting influence of her parents.
Dolio has never gotten the love she needs from her parents, a fact that becomes painfully obvious when she demands that her mother call her by a term of endearment (pun intended) and she refuses to do it. Melanie immediately steps up and says she will do what Dolio wants.
Melanie then proceeds to do for Dolio the very things that Dolio's parents never did. This causes frustration for Dolio who is unaccustomed to anyone who knows her and her family doing things for her without expecting anything in return. Her emotional and moral compasses have gone haywire from her strange upbringing.
Gradually, Dolio discovers that she is not who she was brought up to be. She realizes that she can have a better, fuller life than her parents could ever prepare her for.
There are aspects of this film that remind me of “The Royal Tenenbaums” (2001) with its dark, subversive humor, headed up by Richard Jenkins, who plays a perfect scoundrel. All four of these characters are well fleshed out and quite quirky.
This is the kind of movie I fully expect from writer/director Miranda July (“Me and You and Everyone We Know”). July's take on society, people and relationships is unique. Her vision is as unique and distinct as that of quirky writer/director Wes Anderson (“Isle of Dogs”) though not quite as whimsical.
When you prepare yourself to see a Miranda July movie, do not expect the usual movie experience, expect something different. Expect the unexpected. This film rates a B.
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