Emily the Criminal — Movie Review

KJ Proulx's Reviews
2 min readSep 22, 2022

by KJ Proulx

Aubrey Plaza in ‘Emily the Criminal’ [Credit: Roadside Attractions]

Indie thrillers seem to be coming out fairly often this year and I’m not about to complain about that. Indie thrillers that don’t have a massive budget to go over the top with are usually better in my opinion when done well. Similar to how I feel about a recent film I just watched, Breaking, Emily the Criminal continues my enjoyment of these smaller-scale, intense stories. I had no intention of watching this, to be honest, but upon hearing great things, I was intrigued, and I’m thrilled I gave it a chance. Here’s why I believe Emily the Criminal deserves a watch.

Broke and dealing with loads of debt, Emily is doing everything she can to get ahead in life and pay off her loans. However, she continues to have bad days and that drives her over the edge. Saying yes to participating in a credit card scheme with an underground company, she very quickly enters the criminal world. Doubling down on what she learns, she begins to go off on her own, becoming clumsy. This film dives deep into her mind and what kind of thoughts she has on a daily basis and I was riveted by that. Not only is this an interesting character, but Aubrey Plaza probably delivers one of the best performances of her career, if not the very best.

Writing and directing his first feature film, John Patton Ford blew me away with his work here. He barely has a credit to his name online, which shocked me after doing some research. He has a real knack for filmmaking and I really hope he has more stories to tell. I will watch anything he makes from now on. It’s very rare that I jump on board with a filmmaker after only one film, but Emily the Criminal definitely made me feel that way. It’s not perfect by any means and of course, films like this have been made many times over, but that doesn’t matter to me when they’re made this well.

In the end, this film rarely has a dull moment. The intrigue, even in the slower scenes kept me engaged. I was just too curious about what would end up happening to Emily to want to look away. I had a feeling where this film would end, and even though it becomes predictable, the final moments still surprised me a bit. It’s no masterpiece, but it’s fantastic at doing what it sets out to do, which is be a little thriller that’s very well-written and plotted out to keep the audience on the edge of their seat. For that reason alone, I recommend it. It's much better than I was expecting.

Rating: 4/5

Check out the trailer below: