Written by: J Blakeson
Starring: Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eiza González, Dianne Wiest
After a life of putting in countless hours of work, the final reward as the fruits of our labor comes in retirement. No expectations, seeing as hard work, saving, and investing have led to living out the rest of your days in tranquility. Then you have the scheme displayed in I Care a Lot, which should instill fear in the minds of any retiree. Such an entertainingly nasty feature, this film does not provide anyone to particularly root for, but that becomes the entire point.
Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike) and her partner, in more than one way, Fran (Eiza González) run an operation where they take guardianship of an elderly citizen, deem them in need of elder care, and strip them of their assets. A horrible practice but one that has brought them plenty of cash. With their most recent potential cash cow, they learn they might have tried to dupe the wrong old woman, as her connections now bring grave threats to the pair.
Opening with a flashy setup of this horrible operation, not getting a shiver down your spine may be impossible in showing the effortless nature of how Marla and Fran can take someone just trying to live their nice retired life and suck on to them like parasites. It certainly will make you want to review all of the important documents in any retired person you have in your life to ensure they have everything in order, seeing as what occurs in this feature presents nightmare fuel. However, with the horrific nature of what Marla and Fran do, you almost have to build a certain level of respect for the massive grift they have been able to craft all while following the law and even receiving assistance from unknowing judges. However, this new cash cow provides more than they can handle, but also demonstrates just how vicious Marla, in particular, can be when pulled into a game of power.
When confronting the issues they have brought themselves with scamming Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest), Marla receives multiple opportunities to back off with no hard feelings, but this reveals more about the lead character and how money does not matter as much to her rather than the idea of someone trying to take away one of her toys. A power struggle to the point where you might find yourself yelling at the screen for this woman to just stop before she gets herself far too deep in the rabbit hole here. Marla’s persistence runs parallel with the themes of why many relate to her even with the heinous things she does for a profession. Having to deal with rampant misogyny by many men that come across her way, Marls represents this ruthless side most women feel they cannot exhibit. Sure, her actions cross the line, but the way in which she unapologetically follows through simply astounds. On the other hand, this character can also be an indictment on “girl boss” culture to the point where folks dig themselves in a hole rooting for her, even if what she does is genuinely terrifyingly evil.
No matter where you individually land on Marla as a character, she still represents such a fascinating person to follow. A character you can root for and hate with the pendulum swinging back and forth within any particular scene. This role finds Rosamund Pike going back to the well of what made her Academy Award-nominated in Gone Girl. It certainly carries several similarities from the short haircut, devastating monologues, and strange perspectives of her being both loved and adored depending on the person. Pike has such a level of control in this performance, because she has done something similar before but also because she does so well in capturing this level of arrogance and venom through simple smiles and looks. She specifically has the “it” factor when portraying a character like this and while in recent years, Pike has tried expanding to more biopics, portraying individuals like Marla demonstrates her best.
With several twists and turns in the narrative, this feature does not give you a distinct person to root for because pretty much everyone, besides perhaps Jennifer, participates in horrible actions. This applies to Marla, Fran, and then the introduction of Roman, portrayed by Peter Dinklage. Not having a distinct “good character” may be a turn off for some, but it provides such an exhilarating experience, as each time these characters try to inflict pain on the other, it leaves me in a conflicted state of whether I should be happy or sad about what just occurred. Nothing becomes clear-cut, which serves as a testament to why this film succeeds.
Power and money will really make people do the craziest things and the battle of the wits captured in razor-sharp and ruthless I Care a Lot goes against the title of the feature in such entertaining ways. Yes, you will feel icky watching this film but it all comes as part of the fun as it continually blurs the line of who one can root for in this game of trying to get the upper hand over the other. Effortlessly entertaining and filled with so much to enjoy, this feature truly becomes quite the romp.