I Care a Lot

Rating:

A Cynic’s Paradise

Main Cast: Rosamund Pike, Dianne Wiest

Director: J Blakeson

I Care a Lot is billed as a dark comedy action thriller. I suppose it is all of those things to one degree or another, but mostly it’s a cynical portrait of a new American dream.

Rosamund Pike (who I know best from Gone Girl) plays Marla Grayson. Marla is a court appointed legal guardian for elderly clients who need help caring for themselves and their finances.

Marla is an opportunistic grifter who, contrary to the movie’s title, does not care at all, at least not about the people under her care. Her entire operation is about taking their money, their freedom, and severing their connections with anyone who might reveal her scheme.

We meet her as she is about to pick up a new client, a woman hand-picked by one of her many, many co-conspirators because she has a lot of money and no family. She’s perfectly capable of caring for herself, but Marla is undeterred by such petty details.

Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest, who I loved in Life in Pieces) finds herself placed under the care of Marla, without her knowledge or consent, and forcibly moved to a care home. She is not allowed to communicate with anyone and if she complains, she is sedated. Marla and her partner Fran (Eiza Gonzalez) proceed to gut her home and sell her belongings.

But Jennifer is not quite who they think she is. Enter Peter Dinklage (who I saw recently in Rememory). She may have no family on paper, but paper lies. This is a woman with connections. Marla may have bitten off more than she can chew this time, but as is her nature, she refuses to lose.

So what we have here is basically a bunch of bad people doing really bad things and the audience gets to figure out which bad people to root for. It’s a conundrum made palatable by just one thing: stellar acting.

Rosamund Pike, with the most severe bob haircut in history, fancies herself a lioness fighting against men who want to hold her back from realizing her disgusting goals. Marla is a horrible person, but Pike is a wonderful actress who uses her talents to add a slyly comical edge to this otherwise despicable character.

Dianne Wiest is fantastic as Jennifer. She’s a victim, but she’s not a typical victim. She has no use for Marla and despite her circumstances has confidence in her son.

And then there’s Peter Dinklage. Of course I love him anyway, but his portrayal of a son facing down his mother’s enemy is pretty great. He surrounds himself with a cadre of overconfident foot soldiers who are unprepared for Marla’s cruelty and tenacity.

In the end I Care a Lot turns out to be very watchable, but not uplifting in any way, shape, or form. It’s entertaining to watch Pike and Dinklage do battle, but the basic con is so unfathomably cruel that it’s hard to really enjoy the film.

I Care a Lot is worth watching for the performances, but know going in that it might hit a sore spot if there’s an elderly person in your life. If you have a very, very cynical sense of humor it might really hit the spot.

I Care a Lot is streaming on Netflix.

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