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Parents' Guide to

Emily the Criminal

By Monique Jones, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Tense drama questions capitalism; violence, drugs, language.

Movie R 2022 93 minutes
Emily the Criminal Movie Poster

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 1 parent review

age 15+

Plaza and the rest of the cast excel in this taut drama

Plaza is a tour de force in this film that hits all the right tones. Every line and everything you need to know about Emily is revealed to you layer by layer in this story about contemporary poverty. She reminds us of how people are shoved into criminality and how "choice" can feel very constrained, when survival means it occurs at the expense of others. A tight script, strong performances and tense situations keep the audience on their toes.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (1 ):

This tense drama/thriller takes on an issue facing many millennials and Gen Z'ers: trying to make it big in a capitalist society that feels made for the rich and/or those with endless connections. Like many people in Emily the Criminal's target audience, Emily is faced with student debt, a culture that tells her to constantly try harder (without giving her actual help or chances), and a society that judges people with criminal records and sees them as disposable and worthless. You can see how she'd get desperate enough to throw her lot in with Youcef's scam.

While that aspect of the film is gripping, Emily the Criminal doesn't manage to capture all of the viewer's attention. That's largely because a romantic subplot feels forced into a story that had a much stronger focus when it was commenting on late-stage capitalism. Also distracting is Youcef, the mastermind behind the credit card scheme (and Emily's love interest). He presents as Middle Eastern, but it feels like the character isn't fully explored because Rossi's accent isn't authentic, and he doesn't feel fully rooted in the character. Still, he brings a bit of sparkle to the proceedings. But Plaza is the film's true heart and force. It just would have been nice if the film had focused less on Emily's love life and more on her already fascinating (and relatable) fight to be taken seriously in the workforce.

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