Produced by: J Blakeson, Michael Heimler, Teddy Schwarzman, Ben Stillman
Directed by: J Blakeson
Starring: Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eliza González, Chris Messina, Dianne Wiest
Runtime: 118 minutes
Written and directed by J Blakeson who worked on films like The Disappearance of Alice Creed and The 5th Wave, I care a lot follows Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike), a very persuasive but extremely shady court-appointed legal guardian who makes her living with her partner Fran (Eliza González) by taking advantage of the elderly and their loneliness. They send them into care homes, severing all contact to the outside world, selling their homes and assets, and keeping the earnings. Marla’s despicable operations get her into serious trouble when she falsely testifies that a wealthy single retiree Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest) is mentally unwell and unable to take care of herself. Upon her successful application for guardianship, Carla takes advantage of Peterson by moving her to a care home and attempting to sell her belongings which include valuable diamonds. Unbeknownst to Marla, Jennifer is linked to a former Russian mob boss Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage) who is prepared to kill her when he learns that Carla moved her to a care home and is trying to make money by selling her items. Her encounter with the mob will put her back against the wall and force her to play even more dirty to get the upper hand in this precarious ordeal. The question left to answer is whether the film premise and performances are good enough to keep its audience to their seats.
- Rosamund Pike reaches similar heights to her Academy Award-nominated performance in Gone Girl as her turn as the ‘lioness’ Marla Grayson is another highlight. The character without a shadow of a doubt is a despicable sociopath who shows little to no empathy for the people under her care and only sees them as a means to an end. You won’t be rooting for Marla but Rosamund commands the role with a level of bravado and conviction that will certainly leave you probing to see what motivates her and how low she is willing to go to get the upper hand in what is her most dangerous job yet.
- Pike’s supporting cast also plays their part with a high level of efficiency. Game of Thrones Alum Peter Dinklage has a discreet but terrifying aura as the pastry munching, gymnastic-loving gangster whose ruthlessness knows no boundaries and is even able to rattle Marla at key points of the story. The elderly Jenifer Petersen who is the catalyst to the film’s event is played well by Dianne Wiest. She has fun portraying a character who is mentally sharp and somewhat ruthless despite the miasma of medications that would make another soul extremely docile. Chris Messina, makes a short appearance but impactful one as Roman’s sharply suited lawyer Dean Ericson who subtly warns Marla that her decision to keep Petersen, is probably one that is going to end in violence. Eliza González turn as Fran who is Marla’s business partner and love interest does well with the part is given and ends up being one of the only people that give Marla a scent of empathy.
- I care a lot is a film of two halves in terms of tone and genre. While its pacing and setup is good, I feel like the movie’s main premise which is centered on the mistreatment of the elderly and the corruption behind the care home system in America is placed as a stepping stone for its action-thriller heavy second act. While entertaining the movie disappointingly abandons the subject matter in favour of its action sequences. For me personally, I think the film is at its best when it focused on Marla’s frightening lack of empathy for her wards and their families who try to argue against her. She uses her professionalism to outmaneuver them in a courtroom and it is genuinely scary how she turns their raw emotions against them to make them look unstable. These moments are even compounded by the fact she has tight control over the care homes and can influence the direction and nurses of the care home with the amount and types of drugs her wards should be sedated with, a fact which becomes all too evident once she wants to take her frustrations out of Jennifer when her son and her goons want to take her out. The movie in my opinion loses its uniqueness when it relegates itself to a series of action sequences till it reaches its crazy conclusion.
I care a lot is an adrenaline-charged thriller with heavy themes on its sleeve. It comes swinging with a great performance from Rosamund Pike and her supporting cast despite having an indecisive tone. Worth a watch.