Aubrey Plaza is stellar in so-so crime thriller

Emily the Criminal is anchored by a fierce performance from Aubrey Plaza.

A kind of gravitational pull emanates from Aubrey Plaza as the title character in Emily the Criminal, a passably diverting crime thriller where, in place of a moral center, Plaza delivers a performance that is entertainingly blackhearted. (Well, perhaps not entirely black, but certainly a lovely shade of charcoal gray.)

As a 30-something art school graduate trying to pay off $70,000 in college loans by working for a Los Angeles catering company who discovers the lucrative world of credit card fraud — and, if only briefly, a hint of romance — Plaza draws and holds our focus. That she does so without sliding into the easy deadpan she is so often pigeonholed into, thanks to her droll turn on Parks and Recreation, is a nice surprise.

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