Kajillionaire

My paternal grandparents
ruined my father's life.
My maternal grandparents
ruined my mother's life.

They both
tried to ruin mine.

It is nothing but a vulgar
family story.
I had no choice.
I had to kill them.

Familia – Estela Figueroa (translated by Reggina Idiartegaray)

Kajillionaire is the kind of movie that makes me want to discuss with my therapist during a session. I had a flashback to a room at the back of a church in West Village, where more than once I attended 'Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families' meetings on Sundays. I went there a little bit out of curiosity and a little bit because it made me feel better. I got to know the meetings through my best friend's cousin who had lived in New York for quite some years. She was going to meetings and invited me to go with her on a Sunday. The first time I went I felt uncomfortable. It was like in the movies: the chairs, the people greeting each other, asking permission to speak, telling how they still carried traumas from their past and how this stopped them from growing healthy relationships.

Kajillionaire took me to that moment: when you see that there are other people with terrible, different or similar stories, all with the common denominator of abuse to some extent, and you realize that we are all connected in some way. Although our stories are different, we all need the same thing. 


Miranda July knows it. "Me and you and everyone we know", her other movie, has a bit of that too: human beings who cannot solve their own need for intimacy, for being seen, and incessantly seek it in other things, in other people.

I think both films, Kajillionaire and Me and you and everyone we know, are beautiful artworks because they give hope. There is something about the poetic occurrences that makes us feel accompanied, united, belonging.

At some point the diseased family system breaks down and chaos begins. Roles are reversed, the dynamics change. The person who is manipulated rebels, begins to see herself, to recognize her desire and with integrity (although also pain) tries to escape from the toxic circle. The film transitions this process seamlessly in just one hour and forty minutes.

Near the end of the movie, we see how Old Dolio offers her parents some of the money she earned so they can pay the rent. Her mother tells her that she should not worry, that they are "the parents" and that they will take care of that. I think all of us at that moment are hoping that this is true and it is not just another attempt at manipulation.

If you have not watched the film, do not continue reading or yes, continue, although spoiler alert: Before they check if the parents stole the money, Old Dolio says: “if it is only my third, 525, that means that we can only be how we are, but we love you and you wish well". I think this last sentence could save us several years of therapy. We can only be who we are, that does not mean that in their way they have not loved her, nor does it mean that she has to stay in a place where she is not seen.

I find it funny that in many interviews Miranda is asked about the similarities to her "real life" and the film's fiction. Almost always the interview is directed to her possible past kleptoman tendency or to find out what made her so interested in a story where someone steals. I believe that the theft or the logistics of the parents and Old Dolio to get money and survive is part of the plot of the film, yes, but in the background. Family dynamics are the star of this film. It seems much more interesting to me to think about what leads Miranda to portray many times narcissistic parents and dysfunctional systems, wounded and thirsty souls, beyond the rich universe and the problems they present.

It appears much more interesting to me to think about what leads Miranda to portray many times narcissistic parents and dysfunctional systems, wounded and thirsty souls, beyond the rich universe and the problems they present.