Films have the ability to transport us to a myriad real-life and fictional cities, countries and continents as well as showcasing situations and scenarios that may not have crossed our minds before.
I Care a Lot focuses on Marla Grayson, a savvy, smart businesswoman who is exploiting America’s legal system for her own benefit. She has built a strong reputation for being a capable, caring legal guardian and collects elders by persuading a judge to appoint her on the proviso that they have no family and cannot look after themselves anymore.
This notion — this exploitation of vulnerable people — was completely new to me. Is it really ‘a thing’ or is it an idea that director and writer J Blackson wanted to explore in film?
Within a few minutes of starting I Care a Lot I was angry. Marla — in an award-worthy performance from Pike — is ruthless in her actions and clearly not concerned that what she’s doing is immoral and unethical. To use Marla’s own words — heard in the opening voiceover — she’s “a f***ing lioness”.
Sharp suits, powerful performances and witty wordplay are in abundance in I Care a Lot, but when the credits started to roll I was left feeling rather unsatisfied. The premise is excellent but it becomes farcical.
Stop reading now if you want to avoid spoilers
We know very little about Marla apart from how she earns her money, that she hates her mother (potentially explaining her disdain of elders) and that she’s in a relationship with Eiza González’s Fran, although that aspect takes a while to actually reveal itself.
However, as the events of the film play out she becomes a highly skilful criminal mastermind with enough confidence to take on a crime syndicate. How does she have this knowledge and where do her supplies (including wig and drugs)?
Speaking of said crime syndicate, Peter Dinklage makes a valiant effort as mob boss Roman Lunyov — whose mother, Jennifer (Dianne Wiest), becomes Marla’s latest victim — but for all the talk of how dangerous he is, Roman appears to be understaffed, operating from a basic looking office and very easy to target.
Thirdly, it is a shame that Wiest disappears from the screen until the film is neatly (and quickly) wrapped up at the end. Wiest’s performance was excellent so I would have liked to have seen a lot more of her.
The final nail in the coffin also concerns Jennifer. As events progress Marla has her transferred to a mental institution as she is “a danger to herself and those around her”. How then is she able to reunite her with her son, Roman? Surely this remarkable recovery would have seemed a bit suspicious to the judge?
I Care a Lot is a bold, original film that delivers uncomfortable situations and wonderfully unlikeable characters that all receive various fitting comeuppances. However, it is not one that I will be eager to re-watch anytime soon.
I Care A Lot (2020)
Director: J Blakeson
Starring: Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eiza González
“A crooked legal guardian who drains the savings of her elderly wards meets her match when a woman she tries to swindle turns out to be more than she first appears.” – IMDb
- Rosamund Pike was nominated for 1 Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy