I can’t be the only person who thinks that Rosamund Pike is one of the most underrated actresses of her generation. It’s been seven years since she made herself a real household name (despite being around since the early 2000s) in Gone Girl, but for me much of her most interesting work has come in more recent times in pictures like A Private War and Radioactive. Hers is a name that I’m always excited by, and when the premise of the film she’s involved with is equally exciting, then signs point towards a good time!
And oh boy, a good time and half was definitely had! I Care A Lot tells the story of Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike), a career con woman who, along with her girlfriend Fran (Eiza Gonzalez), makes a comfortable living by convincing courts to grant her guardianship over vulnerable elders whose assets she can then exploit. The couple’s operation is plunged into chaos, however, when their latest victim Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest) proves to be much more than the ideal candidate they had originally imagined.
I can already feel that I Care A Lot is going to be a very divisive film for a number of different reasons. Firstly, the initial premise of elder abuse is going to be an immediate turn off for some, and secondly, the narrative features zero characters of any positive moral standing. Literally zero. This is a movie about bad people on different sides doing increasingly bad things to each other, no audience surrogates and redemption arcs here! If those kinds of things are what you need to connect with or invest in a film, then you might struggle with I Care A Lot, but me, I simply sat back and revelled in the despicable chaos being unleashed by all involved!
If last year’s Kajillionaire was ‘soft queer crime’, I Care A Lot is definitely the ‘hard’ alternative, and I loved every second of it. There is also a timely tinge of Promising Young Woman about the film, most notably in the vivid colours, sharp style and overall cool aesthetic that directly contrasts with the awful realities of the plot. Very much a dark comedy thriller, the film starts off relatively small scale and eventually graduates into an all out twist fest with a handful of really great action sequences. There’s a bit of everything here, and though the pickiest among us could say that the plot verges too close to silly by the end, by that point I had already strapped myself in and accepted whatever ride was about to transpire.
I Care A Lot is the kind of movie that almost makes you feel bad for having a good time. If you try to extract any kind of solid moral message out of it, you’ll end up with a headache. The film doesn’t go all the way and leave out any kind of comeuppance for certain characters, but if you’re looking for a black and white good versus evil kind of story, you won’t find it here!
There are a handful of great performances in this movie, but there is absolutely no doubt that I Care A Lot belongs to Rosamund Pike. As Marla Grayson, Pike absolutely revels in playing a terrible human being whose one and only soft spot seems to be for her girlfriend. Half villainous masterclass, half fashion week showcase, Marla does horrible, horrible shit and looks absolutely amazing while doing it. Pike effortlessly exudes an energy that makes her immediately, and rightfully, unlikable, but at the same time, you cannot take your eyes off the character. As Marla’s partner in life and in crime, Eiza Gonzalez as Fran also exudes a very cool, very enigmatic energy. She’s probably the closest to having a working moral compass within the narrative, and she’s a still technically a bad guy, so you know what kind of levels we’re operating on here!
As Jennifer Peterson, Dianne Wiest is delightful in a role that starts out as one thing and turns very quickly into another. As the star of some of my childhood favourites like Edward Scissorhands and Practical Magic, it’s always a treat to see Wiest in anything, and some of the scenes that she gets to share with Rosamund Pike are wickedly enjoyable.
Peter Dinklage also has a fun prominent role within the narrative, but to say too much about him would be to spoil much of the plot. What I will I say, though, is that it’s really refreshing to see Dinklage play a role in which his dwarfism has nothing to do with any of his defining character traits. No dark jokes at his expense, no Austin Powers-esque bullshit, you know all of the nonsense directions that some movies would be tempted to go.
Overall, I Care A Lot is a total winner for me. A dark comedy thriller that doesn’t pull any punches, and does in directions that will have you gasping one minute and laughing the next. Rosamund Pike already has a Golden Globe nomination in the bag for this one, and I’m hoping that enough Oscar voters decide to show her some love too. A performance that seduces and shocks you in equal measure, and that pretty much sums up how I feel about the movie as a whole as well!