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Movie Mike on Why ‘Emily the Criminal’ Will Have Your Stomach in Knots

What would you do if you had nothing left to lose? If you were haunted by your criminal past and living in a society unwilling to give you a second chance? Would you turn to a life of credit card fraud?

That’s where we find Aubrey Plaza in her new movie Emily the Criminal. You probably know Aubrey from her character April on NBC’s Parks and Rec. In her movie career, she’s known more for her comedic acting in movies like Funny People, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and The To Do List. But recently, I’ve really enjoyed seeing her take on more dark, dramatic roles recently in Ingrid Goes West and Black Bear. That’s where we find her in Emily the Criminal.  

The movie is about her character Emily who is straddled with student debt and unable to find work due to a couple of strikes on her criminal record. She then becomes involved in a credit card scam, acting as a dummy shopper and buying increasingly risky products with stolen credit cards. Aubrey brings an authenticity to this role and gives her best performance yet. Does it sound crazy for someone to turn to a life of crime because of student debt? Yeah, a little. But the movie maintains a level of realism throughout without feeling like it ever jumps the shark. It’s a story about a person whose society is unwilling to give a second chance so she decides to make her own way. Aubrey gives an intense performance that will have you equally rooting and stressed for her character. 

This is the most anxious I’ve felt watching a movie since 2019’s Uncut Gems. My stomach was in knots in several parts of the movie. But I enjoy it when a movie can make me feel that emotion and I find myself wanting to yell at the screen as Emily gets deeper and deeper into the world of credit card fraud. The 90 minute movie creates a perfect pacing by eliminating all the filler you usually find in a movie like this. Instead of setting the viewer up with a lot of back story, it shows you instead of how Emily goes from someone down on her luck to the point of being pushed so far to the edge she decides to take a risk. 

Aubrey Plaza is now on my list of underrated actors and ones that I will watch them in anything right now. I think she is in the prime of her career right now and can’t wait to see what kind of role she takes on next. If you're a fan of crime-thrillers then I think this is the movie for you. Seeing this movie on the big screen added a lot to the thrill so I would recommend catching it in theaters if it’s playing near you.  

I give it 4.5 out of 5 Credit Cards.