Genre: Dark, Comedy, Thriller, Crime
In I Care a lot, writer-director J Bleakson tries to recapture the magic Rosamund Pike created with David Fincher in Gone Girl. This film, while dissimilar in the plot, it explores similar themes with the idea of capitalism at its center. Manipulation, misogyny, dishonesty, and usage of media to construct a positive narrative about our protagonist.
Rosamund Pike plays the role of a sociopathic woman who drains the elderly of their life savings. She meets her match when she goes for her next lamb.
Underneath all of its twists and turns, this is the essence of J Blakeson’s I Care a Lot: two dangerous people who don’t know when to step down. Marla Grayson, played by Rosamund Pike, is a court-appointed legal guardian who “earns her living” by conning old people into signing their wills over to her. But when she accidentally takes the wrong woman (Dianne West) into her custody, Marla’s life is invariably threatened by the mark’s son, a short-tempered Russian mafia boss by the name of Roman Lunyov(Peter Dinklage).
Grayson’s money printing press works when a doctor selects an elderly patient who looks like a good candidate, a person of solid financial means who’s not too old and infirm just yet, but possibly on the brink of being mentally unfit with no immediate family to take care of her when she does. A judge signs a court order asserting that this woman can no longer care for herself and needs someone else to step in and help. Following the order, a legal guardian shows up at the woman’s house with the document, saying she’s in charge now and insisting she’ll take good care of her property and finances. Then the elderly ward is taken to a facility, given a private room, and promises that she will be treated like a queen. It is harrowing to watch a perfectly fine woman being forced out of her own home and locked up in a facility with no visitors and no cell phones. The one and only queen in this flick, Rosamund Pike, even cuts her medicine down and puts the woman on a dangerous exercise regime as a means of torture to get some information.
Marla is a woman driven by cold, hard ambition. From her hairstyle to her stiletto heels to her vape pen, whenever Pike is in the scene, it feels like she is prepared for battle. Her disarmingly captivating performance, which obviously won’t make you root for her, makes you wonder if she will be able to pull off her scam. Her performance only mellows down when she is sharing an intimate scene with her partner in crime and lover, Fran(Eiza Gonzalez). It’s in moments with her does it feel like Marla has a heart.
Bleakson has presented his unique plot in a slick yet colourful way. Marc Canham’s energetic score adds to the overall flow as well. The Shortcoming of this movie comes with Jennifer Peterson, Roman Lunyou, and plot conveniences which assimilate into a dreadful third act. As mentioned earlier, Jennifer is no regular oldie but has close ties with Russian mafia boss Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage). There’s a new lion in her town and she must up her game if she’s meant to survive.
Closer to the third the predator becomes the prey. One moment, Marla has the upper hand. The next, Roman does. Their roles keep reversing throughout the runtime of this movie with no certainty, which really shouldn’t be the case. There have been plot conveniences previously― during a court scene but Marla’s confrontation with the seemingly ruthless mobster? It should have ended her swiftly with no one around to comfort her. However, she survives on multiple occasions. Attempts to humanize her are also made; possibly in hopes to portray Peter Dinklage’s character as more dangerous but nothing’s funnier than a naive mob boss.
In its seemingly nihilistic ending, I Care a Lot becomes much more than just a quirky film about a well-dressed con-woman. It is a commentary on the dangers of capitalism, and the significance of doing right by others. The movie does get muddy near its end, characters make unnatural decisions but the acting, cinematography, soundtrack, and a near-perfect first half make it worth the watch.