Emily the Criminal ending explained – what did Emily do?

December 11, 2022 (Last updated: December 14, 2022)
Lori C. 0
Ending Explained, Film

We discuss the ending of the film Emily the Criminal, which will contain spoilers.

Starring Aubrey Plaza in the lead role, Emily the Criminal marks John Patton Fords directorial debut. When the film premiered early this year, it received several accolades and widespread critical acclaim. The film centers on the titular character as she resorts to committing credit card fraud to pull herself out from under the weight of student debt.

When we first meet Emily, she’s failing a job interview because of a past assault charge. While she never graduated from college, nor benefited from it, she’s still drowning in student debt. Her job as an independent contractor for a corporate catering company just about allows the young woman to get by. And Emily’s successful best friend, Liz, keeps dangling the carrot of getting her an interview at her corporate place of work, but those promises are as empty as our protagonists’ bank account. 

It’s no surprise the young woman jumps at the chance of making quick money when her work colleague, Javier, gives her the number of someone willing to pay her to be a “dummy shopper.” At first, Emily’s a bit apprehensive about getting involved in the credit card fraud managed by the charismatic Youcef (Theo Rossi) but soon becomes rather good at it.

Emily the Criminal ending explained

Her relationship with Youcef also blossoms to the point where he introduces her to his mom. This new life of crime doesn’t come without risk though. When Emily uses a stolen credit card to purchase a car, the owner figures out what’s happening before she can safely peel out of there. Eventually, she gets away from him but not before he breaks her nose. Further down the line, a potential customer of her stolen goods business robs her at knifepoint. Not being the one to let her money go, she goes after the robber, attacks him, and recovers her beloved cash. As the film progresses, it becomes clear that Emily is willing to prioritize financial security over anything else. 

What happens at the end of Emily the Criminal?

In the third act, Emily’s friend Liz finally gets her the interview she promised at her fancy ad agency. Excited to finally get the “real job” she’s been dreaming of for years, the protagonist is full of hope when she meets the agency’s manager, Alice (Gina Gershon). The joy doesn’t last long as she soon learns that the position she’s interviewing for is an unpaid internship with full-time hours, of course. An angry Emily walks out of the interview, but not before calling Alice some choice words. 

Meanwhile, Youcef’s cousin and business partner, Khalil (Jonathan Avigdori) decided to cut him out of the credit card scheme and empties out their stash of cash. Emily convinces Youcef to attack Khalil in his home and get the money back. The two stage a ruse that gets Khalil’s minions out of the house before entering. However, things don’t go as planned as the cousin fights back and injures Youcef. In the struggle that ensues, Emily injures Khalil and threatens to cut his throat if he doesn’t tell her where the money was. While she does find a bag of cash, Youcef accidentally dropped his car keys in the struggle, so they can’t drive out of there. He’s too hurt to walk, so Emily abandons him in his car, takes the money, and starts walking. 

The very next day, police break into Emily’s apartment. All they find there are her two frightened roommates because Emily herself took herself and the bag of money across the border to Mexico. We see her enjoying her new life for a few brief scenes before we learn what she’s really up to. In a scene mirroring the first time she met Youcef, Emily is seen hiring several people to become “dummy shoppers,” suggesting she started her very own credit card fraud enterprise. 

What did Emily do in Emily the Criminal?

Emily’s criminal job involves creating fake credit cards using stolen numbers to make large purchases such as a $2,000 television. She would then sell the goods to the black market. At first, she would make the purchase for Youcef who paid her to buy the television, but she then learns how to make her own credit cards and source clients on the black market. When she moved to Mexico, she continued the same fraudulent activity. 

What did you think of the ending of the film Emily the Criminal? Comment below.

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