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Emily the Criminal Ending Explained

Emily the Criminal ends with Emily escaping to South America, where she starts a new life and continues her fraudulent activities. This twist shows her complete transformation into a criminal mastermind.

Emily the Criminal, directed by John Patton Ford, is a gripping crime thriller. It stars Aubrey Plaza as Emily, a struggling artist burdened by student debt and a criminal record. The film explores themes of desperation, morality, and the lengths one might go to achieve financial freedom.

Plot Overview

Emily, a college dropout with a minor criminal record, struggles to find a well-paying job. She works part-time at a catering company, but the income is insufficient to cover her substantial student loans. Desperate for money, Emily is introduced to a “dummy shopper” service by her co-worker Javier. This service, run by Youcef and Khalil, involves using fake credit cards to purchase expensive outstandings, which are then sold for profit. Emily initially hesitates but soon becomes deeply involved in the criminal operation due to the allure of quick cash (Decider).

As Emily becomes more entrenched in the fraud ring, she learns the trade from Youcef. He provides her with three crucial rules: do not use cards at ATMs, do not meet customers at home, and do not visit the same store twice in a week. However, Emily’s growing confidence leads her to break these rules, resulting in dangerous consequences. Her actions cause a rift between Youcef and Khalil, leading to a series of escalating conflicts (The Cinemaholic).

Confrontation and Betrayal

The climax of the film occurs when Emily and Youcef decide to rob Khalil after discovering that he has withdrawn all the money from their joint account. They confront Khalil at his safehouse, but the plan goes awry. Khalil attacks Youcef, causing a serious head injury. In a desperate struggle, Emily manages to subdue Khalil with a box cutter and forces him to reveal the location of the money. She escapes with the cash, leaving a severely injured Youcef behind as police sirens approach (Netflix Life).

Emily’s New Life

The film concludes with a significant twist. The police raid Emily’s apartment, but she has already fled. The final scenes reveal Emily living in an unspecified South American country, free from her debts and past troubles. She has started her own dummy shopping business, mirroring the operation she learned from Youcef. The ending implies that Emily has fully embraced her criminal identity, continuing the cycle of fraud in her new life (Decider).

Character Development

Emily’s Transformation

Emily’s journey from a struggling artist to a criminal mastermind is central to the film’s narrative. Initially portrayed as a victim of circumstance, Emily’s character evolves as she becomes more adept at navigating the criminal underworld. Her transformation is marked by a growing sense of empowerment and a willingness to break moral boundaries to achieve her goals. This evolution is underscored by her final decision to continue the fraud business in South America, highlighting her complete acceptance of her new identity (The Cinemaholic).

Themes of Desperation

Emily the Criminal explores the theme of desperation and its impact on moral decision-making. Emily’s initial involvement in the fraud ring is driven by her financial struggles and the lack of legitimate opportunities due to her criminal record. The film raises questions about the ethical boundaries individuals are willing to cross when faced with dire circumstances. Emily’s actions, while illegal, are portrayed as a response to a flawed system that leaves her with limited options (Repeat Replay).

Social Commentary

The film also serves as a commentary on societal issues such as corruption, the pursuit of justice, and the blurred lines between right and wrong. Emily’s quest for financial freedom and her eventual embrace of a criminal lifestyle reflect the complicatedities of morality in a world where traditional paths to success are often blocked. The amhugeuous ending invites viewers to reflect on the nature of justice and the extent to which individuals are responsible for their actions in a corrupt system (Repeat Replay).


Emily the Criminal is a compelling crime thriller that offers a nuanced portrayal of its protagonist’s descent into the criminal underworld. The film’s ending, which sees Emily escaping to South America and continuing her fraudulent activities, underscores her complete transformation and raises thought-provoking questions about morality and justice. Through its intricate plot and complicated characters, the film challenges viewers to reconsider their perceptions of right and wrong, making it a memorable addition to the genre.


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