‘Kajillionaire' Introduces Us to a Strange Family of Scammers

“Kajillionaire” was written/directed by Miranda July.

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Miranda July (“Me You and Everyone We Know”) is known for creating unique, broken characters who do unpredictable things. And fans of her work who can’t get enough won’t be disappointed with her latest film.

In “Kajillionaire” we meet the Dyne family - lifelong scam artists - who have also raised their daughter to scam, swindle and steal. Theresa Dyne (Debra Winger) and Robert Dyne (Richard Jenkins) have created a family unit, but they are far from a family in the traditional sense. The Dynes go to ridiculous lengths for their payouts, even at their daughter’s expense.

Their daughter Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood) has never known another way of life. Eager to please her family, she goes along with every scam including forging checks, and stealing mail. The Dynes are essentially grifters who came to July in a dream.

Matt Kennedy / Focus Features
Director Miranda July on the set of KAJILLIONAIRE, a Focus Features release. Credit : Matt Kennedy / Focus Features

“I was half awake one morning, and this family, this man and these two women with long hair, just kind of came walking towards me,” July says. “I remember thinking I can either go back to sleep and have this as a dream, or I can reach for my phone and start taking dictation.”

Fortunately, she did grab her phone and that was the beginning of fleshing out these characters and this world. They are isolated by choice, living in an old office building and days away from being evicted. This is the only life Old Dolio has ever known. She has no friends, and very little interaction with anyone outside her family unit. 

But things start to change for Old Dolio when a scam she planned introduces Melanie (Gina Rodriguez) to their family unit. Melanie is the opposite of Old Dolio in many ways. She is exuberant and independent. And she is Old Dolio’s first real connection to the outside world and what she's missing. 

Matt Kennedy / Focus Features
Gina Rodriguez stars as "Melanie" in director Miranda July's KAJILLIONAIRE, a Focus Features release. Credit : Matt Kennedy / Focus Features

Rodriguez, who plays against type here, says she jumped at the chance to work with July. 

“She is an auteur director. She is a 360 artist. She comes with a musicality and vision,” Rodriguez says. “She is the embodiment of a walking piece of art.”

And that’s a perfect way to describe this dreamy, kooky film. It’s art that exposes heartbreaking loneliness and a transformational journey, with a cosmic feel. 

Focus Features “Kajllionaire” opens in theaters Sept. 25 and on demand Oct. 16. It was directed by Miranda July and stars Evan Rachel Wood, Richard Jenkins, Debra Winger and Gina Rodriguez.

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