The first example, False Millionaires (Kajillionaire) appears to be incomplete work. Exploring a tumultuous family dynamic based on the succession of things that unite them and – technically – call them like family, the production seems to have difficulty expressing all the complexity that initially determines it. But like a fine wine that gains flavor over time, Miranda July’s independent comedy drama sometimes takes a while to digest. But absorbed in its entirety, it unfolds like an unusual comic book tale of loneliness, love, the search for identity, and what essentially defines a family.
Between twists and turns, father, mother and daughter spend their days trying to squeeze anything out of any situation. As an upside-down family, not structured as it traditionally should, this trio adrift their own human existence, eating to the buzz of whatever is left and – ultimately – appearing in their path. And without much explanation, what we know right away is that without the determination to lead a life of dignity and righteousness through work and personal achievement, the Patriarch and Matriarch have lived their lives trying to take advantage of all kinds of situations. By petty theft of mailboxes that usually don’t add much value, they dishonestly try to earn their daily bread. And in the midst of this family socio-economic confusion, stands Old Dolio, a young woman with blond hair who covers most of her structure, hampered by her own existence. With a curvy body, shoulders thrown forward, and features hidden by her locks, she is the girl who looks more like a gang member of the best age than a true family bond.
And it is precisely because of this lack of love and affection that exists between the three protagonists that Dolio has such characteristics. Living in a constant sense of social displacement, the character is – naturally – the one in which our eyes are glazed. Her peculiar body language, her low voice that unsuccessfully tries to be creepy and thick reveals a light and slender figure, which is afraid of everything and everyone. Here, Evan Rachel Wood builds up that beautiful characterization, shedding all of its outstanding features to bring this character so uncomfortable to life in her own skin. And alongside her, Debra Winger and Richard Jenkins complete this bizarre trio, where what should be solidified by parental love and familiarity, transform into a small troop of harmless but emotionally dangerous outlaws.
In Falsos Milionários, Miranda July uses the antics and extravagance of the protagonists’ petty thefts and tricks as pillars to tackle a much more mature and deep narrative. It takes a bit of time to process the premise authentically, but there’s no denying that the charm of the production is precisely the willingness to tell a story that’s much bigger than itself. Here, the plot explores this family relationship as a way to teach audiences the difference that makes them grow up in a loving environment surrounded by values and principles. While the production does little to explore this healthy structure (only in the film’s final moments), highlighting the catastrophic dynamic that exists between the protagonists, we inherently absorb the idea the filmmaker wants to dissect. In a lonely, capitalist world where everyone walks around what they want and need to have in order to present themselves to others, the comedy-drama addresses the weight that such choices can generate in the soul, stressing that much more important than to have, to be is it will truly fill the void that capitalist futility is unable to fill.
And that is why, from the start, it is difficult to change the entire scope of production. For although its foundations are well structured, contemporary human understanding, surrounded by social media and unreal and enviable plastic lifestyles, insists on leading us to the most mediocre perception of life. But as someone who’s in no rush to make themselves understood, July turns her work into a dramatic comedy that – likely – with each new audience will reveal itself even more deeply to us. Like a movie that doesn’t seem to wear down while trying to challenge our metanoia, False Millionaires is a sweet, singular tale that, for a good fan of the Sundance films, a single check won’t be enough.
Watched movie during the 2020 Sundance Film Festival
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