by Charles Kirkland, Jr.
A darkly comedic and twisted exploration of the sad, exploitative, and seedy underbelly of the world of care homes is undertaken in the new Netflix film, I Care A Lot.
Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike) is a legal guardian. When ordered by the court, she takes over the care of her elderly wards and finds placement into a care home in which their needs will be attended. She is also a conniving shark who forces these wards into these homes and then proceeds to liquidate all their assets to pay for her and her partner Fran’s (Elza Gonzalez) lifestyle. It’s a great grift where she often colludes with the care homes and doctors to trick the court. One day, Marla is introduced to a “cherry,” a person with no family or heirs but an incredible amount of wealth that can be a ward with the potential to pay off for decades. Marla jumps at the opportunity to grab her and takes custody of her. Unfortunately, Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest) is not anything that Marla has encountered or expected because she comes with “baggage.”
J Blakeson (The Descent 2, The Disappearance of Alice Creed) serves as the writer and director for the comedic crime thriller, I Care A Lot. It stars Pike, Gonzalez, and Wiest along with Peter Dinklage, Chris Messina, Isiah Whitlock, Jr, and Damian Young. Blakeson, who has developed a short but interesting history for creating twisty tales, turns in an especially clever and extremely wicked story about the absolute worst situations that anyone can imagine in the senior care system. Blakeson’s story is imaginative and fun yet overtly evil and despicable.
Speaking of despicable, Rosamund Pike is the exemplification of it in this movie. She makes you hate her and at some point, the script tries to make you root for her. In the end, you remember that you hate her and that she is evil. Pike has cemented herself as the go-to-woman for playing the psychotic, conflicted, and evil antagonist in films. She has surpassed all the work done by Glenn Close and Sharon Stone by miles. Pike can play sweet and lovable but she is at her best when she is wicked. Marla Grayson, brought to life by Pike, is disgustingly wicked and vile but somehow incredible to watch as she chases down her prey and devours it much like the lioness she proudly claims to be.
A large part of the evil in the cast is played by Peter Dinklage. From the moment that his character appears on the screen, you immediately know that this is one guy you don’t want to mess with. Suffice it to say, without divulging a major plot point, if you have come across the radar of Roman Lunyov, you might want to leave the country. Dinklage is just mildly creepy to the audience, but his reputation proceeds him, as exemplified in the fear and respect of those around him.
Normally, movies that make you wait for a shocking (and totally satisfying) conclusion are mean and torturous ordeals where the payoff usually doesn’t merit the ride. In this case, Blakeson keeps action and intrigue going between the principals to create a sleight of hand with the audience where the payoff is perfectly timed to come when you don’t expect it but also when you really need it.
Rated R for language throughout and some violence, I Care A Lot is a cold and super-smart dark comedy that reminds the viewers that all that glitters is not gold. If you ask Marla though, if you work at it, gold can be discovered. Despite a few plot holes, this movie is actually pretty enjoyable. If you care enough to watch, you might find this one golden.