EMILY THE CRIMINAL: 2022 (Available in theaters) This film is described as a tense and engaging thriller that looks and feels distinctively different.  It is a gripping portrait of a woman always operating in survival mode. Effectively played by Aubrey Plaza, an American actress, comedian, and producer, Emily is not only saddled with student debt, but is locked out of the job market due to a minor criminal record. Emily is technically already a criminal when we meet her: She has an aggravated-assault conviction on her record that's made it hard for her to find steady work.  Early on, she makes a phone call to the loan office to find out why a recent $400.00 payment isn’t reflected on her statement. Turns out it went entirely to the interest, not the principal on the $70,000 she still owes on student loans. Like one in five Americans, she is buried in debt. The movie may be called Emily the Criminal, but it is also an indictment for the society that made her what she is. The film is shot on a low-budget over three weeks during the pandemic. The movie follows the title character, an art-school grad who turns to a life of crime to get by. The entire film hinges on the spectacular performance of Aubrey Plaza who appears in every scene of this movie. Desperate for income, she gets involved in a credit card scam that pulls her into the criminal underworld of Los Angeles. She takes a shady gig as a "dummy shopper," buying goods with stolen credit cards supplied by a handsome and charismatic middleman named Youcef (Theo Rossi). Plaza completely sells her character, making Emily’s transformation from frazzled underdog into confident criminal totally believable. By its final scene, a plot twist upends a traditional conception of a happy ending. Just don't expect it to follow the laws of society or acceptable female behavior. Critics loved it with a 93% on the Tomatometer. We liked it too. GRADE B+