Screened as part of NZIFF 2022

Emily the Criminal 2022

Directed by John Patton Ford

An art-school-dropout drowning in student debt, Aubrey Plaza discovers she has a talent for credit card fraud in this gripping Sundance breakout from first-time writer/director John Patton Ford.

USA In English
96 minutes DCP

Director, Screenplay


Tyler Davidson, Aubrey Plaza, Drew Sykes


Jeff Bierman


Harrison Atkins

Production designer

Liz Toonkel

Costume designer

Amanda Wing Yee Lee


Nathan Halpern


Aubrey Plaza (Emily), Theo Rossi (Youcef), Megalyn Echikunwoke (Liz), Gina Gershon (Alice)


Sundance, San Francisco, Sydney 2022


“A thriller consistently pushed into darker, more intriguing terrain by Aubrey Plaza’s electric performance, Emily the Criminal tells the story of a financially strapped woman who decides that a life of crime is her only escape from crippling debt – if she can make it out alive. John Patton Ford’s feature debut starts off as a character study but soon ratchets up the tension, never losing its focus on the individuals at the centre of a credit-card scam that will inevitably, but compellingly, go pear-shaped…

Set in Los Angeles, the picture stars Plaza as Emily, an aspiring painter who is saddled with about $70,000 in student loans – not to mention a criminal record… Stuck in a dead-end catering job… Emily receives a tip about being a 'dummy shopper', which pays $200 for one hour of work. She quickly realises why the gig is so lucrative — it’s illegal, using stolen credit card numbers to purchase high-end items like flatscreen televisions… Soon, Emily becomes the close confidante of her boss, Youcef, who takes her on as a partner, showing her the whole operation and promising her even greater riches.” — Tim Grierson, Screendaily

“Ford imbues his story with a tense, vibrating energy, moving briskly between the breathlessness of a heist thriller and the sharper barbs of social satire.” — Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly