I Care A Lot
WHERE TO WATCH:
WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
A woman who makes her living by stealing from the elderly while serving as their legal guardian bites off more than she can chew when her latest victim comes with some extra baggage.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
This review for I Care A Lot can be summarised in two words – Rosamund Pike. She is such a force in this film that everything else is almost diminished in comparison. She glides her way through the film with her razor-sharp bob, and her vape pen never far from her mouth, to transfix us in a world that seems both plausible and completely bonkers.
The story follows Marla Greyson (Rosamund Pike), a woman who identifies seniors with a fair amount of money, has them deemed unfit to take care of themselves, has the court appoint her as their legal guardian, and then puts them in a care facility, sells off their belongings and syphons off the money. It works for her because she is preying on the ultimate victim, the forgotten – the elderly. Many of them can't fight back, and the care facility has them on a healthy dose of sedatives if they do, and the outside world does not care enough to fight either. Marla has her trusted group of enablers though – a dodgy doctor who deems her difficult patients as unfit in exchange for money, a judge who seems to be none the wiser to the concerns of the worried children of Marla's clients, and the manager of the care facility who strikes deals with Marla.
Marla's brilliant scheme is halted when she takes on the wrong victim – Jennifer Petersen (Dianne Wiest). Jennifer seems like the perfect victim; she has a bit of money; she has no husband and no children, and should be an easy win for Marla. But Jennifer's secret connection to a notorious mobster, Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage), who will do anything in his power to get Jennifer back, hinders Marla's plan. What follows is a battle between two very terrible people who will do anything to get what they want. And who do we root for? The women who scammed the elderly and probably caused their lives to be cut short? Or the drug dealer and gangster who has murdered many people? My answer was Jennifer. This poor old woman was living her best life in her dream home and had it all taken away from her because of a dodgy doctor.
As mentioned above, this film's immediate take away is how amazing Rosamund Pike is in the role. A consistently strong actor, Pike has not blown me away like this since her iconic performance of Amy Dunne in Gone Girl. One can make many comparisons between Amy and Marla; they are both meticulous villains with killer bobs, but whereas with Amy, Pike played it a little more chilling and unhinged, with Marla she completely leaned into the campiness of the role. Marla is a clear sociopath, and the film does not want you thinking otherwise; there is no sad backstory to make you feel sorry for her. No, Marla is who she is, and she does not care about who she hurts in the process. That's why it is so jarring at a point in the film when it turns, and you start rooting for Marla a bit, you almost feel taken aback, like 'why do I care about the survival of this very terrible person?' And that is largely due to the writing and Pike's performance.
The supporting cast around Pike is excellent as well. Dinklage is convincingly menacing as Pike's foil, a nefarious crime lord with a soft spot. Rising star, Eiza González is Marla's assistant and lover, Fran, and depicts why she is one of the talents you should be watching right now. And Dianne Wiest just reminds us why she is such a renowned character actor, in a role that has her playing sweet and subtle and also absolutely chilling. There is a scene where she goes from quiet and agreeable to putting someone in a headlock, and I barely batted an eye because she made it so believable. I just wish they utilised more of Wiest in the last third of the film as you could feel her absence, and it became more of Marla vs Roman when Jennifer should have been more than a pawn.
The film does bring to light the way the elderly are treated within the system. It was far too easy for Marla to take advantage of them because she was seen as this kindhearted person who is taking care of those that others don't want to. No one within the system cares to investigate further because she deals with the forgotten, the unwanted. The story is based on real-life news events of people who had scammed the elderly by posing as guardians, and the ending of the film gives sort of a pessimistic outlook of what happens when we allow people to shine in the cracks of the justice system.
Other than the acting, the film was beautiful to look at it. The costumes, the lighting, the sets give off a clean, minimalist, almost surgical look that just seems to describe Marla and the slick way in which she pulls off her schemes. As she begins to lose control and becomes entangled with Roman, the colour scheme becomes darker and not as neat. The cinematography by Doug Emmett is so well done, there is one scene in particular when Marla is talking to Roman's lawyer (played perfectly by the charismatic Chris Messina), and there is a series of close-ups of their faces as they battle each other, and it just helps to set the scene and measure the tone of the film.
The film was a bit too long, but I did feel as if there was more it could have done to explain Marla's character. They could have told us more about how she started the schemes, why she became like this, why she wanted to become so powerful, and why she hated her mother. With Amy Dunne, we understand that she is a sociopath but also how the Amazing Amy books contributed to who she is today. We have no association with Marla; we have no attachment to her other than enjoying her for her campiness.
Writer and director J Blakeson did a great job of creating an incredibly entertaining and likeable film about unlikeable characters. This was a comedy thriller which had me holding my breath until the very end and made me fall in love with Rosamund Pike all over again. I can't wait until they cast her as a Disney/Marvel villain.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE: