Rosamund Pike has a sharp bob in this movie. You know what that means.
I Care A Lot serves unabashedly cynical entertainment through the story of a con artist with a niche in Guardianship. It’s a fascinating look into modern-day capitalism. It’s a horrifying commentary of an exploitable legal system. It’s an effortlessly engaging look at a ruthlessly ambitious, duplicitous, smart woman. It’s a 118-minute Black Mirror episode.
Taking advantage of the elderly is a tough story to sell. But thanks to Pike’s performance as Marla Grayson, the plot breezes through as a colorful punchy dark satire with a catchy electronic film score. It’s entertaining, horrific, and infuriating.
Typically, the cash cow Marla acquires is a “high-maintenance asshole” that a doctor (Alicia Witt) wants to get rid of. But this time she finds a “cherry” to handover for a slice of the pie in return – Jennifer Peterson (Dianne West). She has no kids, no husband, no living relatives, and three savings accounts.
Imagine that you’re reading a newspaper one day and a woman knocks on your door. She tells you that she’s your guardian. It says so according to a court order. You don’t know because you’re not required by law to appear in court in case of an emergency. A doctor has testified in court that you are “high risk” when left on your own. The judge decides to place you under the care of a guardian.
There’s security detail outside of your home. You’re confused but you comply. Your house keys are taken by your guardian. She is now in charge of all your assets. You are taken into a facility. You are lead into a room that will be your new home. Your cellphone is taken away. You can’t contact anyone and no one can contact you except your guardian.
It’s a horrifying sequence, punctuated by a slow-motion shot that makes the smiles of the welcoming nurses creepy. You can easily replace Peterson with a parent or grandparent who’s whisked away from a beautiful home that they have feathered through the years.
While this is undoubtedly Pike’s show the supporting cast provides a solid back-up. Dianne West makes her few appearances count. Eiza Gonzales has immediate sexual chemistry with Pike. Peter Dinklage doesn’t have much to do because he has incompetent henchmen (a handsome Chris Messina makes an appearance), but you know that his character is too intelligent to lose.
As entertaining as they are, none of them have redeeming qualities. Their victims are forced to watch on the sidelines.
In one scene, when a Judge asks if she can take another ward, Marla curbs her enthusiasm and adds just enough hesitation. Yes, she has a lot of people to take care of, but she promises to take care of Peterson as much as she can. It is her duty, isn’t it?
But you gotta admit she’s a genius. And when she gets kidnapped and threatened to get killed, she doesn’t flinch. She knows who she is, what she’s about, and what that costs. Marla Grayson is both an admirable and despicable character.
You may not care about her in the end, but I Care A Lot accomplishes what it set out to do without pulling any punches. Marla is not breaking any rules, she’s bending them. “Playing fair is a joke invented by the rich to keep the rest of us poor”.
I Care A Lot
I Care A Lot is a slick and smart pitch-black satire of modern-day capitalism, anchored by the wickedly captivating performance of Rosamund Pike.