I Care a Lot
Distributors: Netflix/Amazon Studios
Production Companies: STXfilms, Black Bear Pictures & Crimple Beck
Director: J Blakeson
Producers: J Blakeson, Michael Heimler, Teddy Schwarzman & Ben Stillman
Scriptwriter: J Blakeson
Main Cast: Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage & Eiza González
Released: September 12, 2020 (Toronto International Film Festival), February 19, 2021 (Global)
Running Time: 118 Minutes
Rosamund Pike stars in the dark comedy thriller, I Care a Lot, which benefits a lot from its strong premise but sadly never reaches the full potential of its concept.
The film follows Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike), who is a legal guardian for elderly people deemed unable to care for themselves. Once they are put in residential homes, she makes money by selling off their properties and belongings, while cutting them off from their family and friends.
However she and her partner Fran (Eiza González) bite off more than they can chew when they unintentionally carry out the scheme on a powerful former Russian mob bosses’ mother.
The first act of this film is stellar. Seeing Marla and Fran take everything from this seemingly innocent old lady is delightfully wicked and entertaining. The concept of taking advantage of the elderly in this way is perfect for a dark comedy and makes for an unnerving yet entertaining watch. The way in which these initial scenes are shot is stylish and really embraces the unashamedly despicable attitude of the lead two characters. I felt genuinely ill watching because I can really imagine something similar to this happening in real life.
While I really do love the first half of I Care a Lot, once the thriller elements start getting added in, the film begins to dip in quality. As the film goes on, less focus is put on the really interesting legal guardian scheme and more on rather boring thriller stuff. The plot point of a powerful criminal getting violent revenge on the protagonist feels so played out and one dimensional. It feels like the most obvious choice for the story to have gone down. It’s too predictable. I would have preferred something more grounded and clever. For example, I would have enjoyed it much more if it stayed in court.
At this point in the film, it also loses that cool sense of realism, with things getting far fetched. Choices made by characters become baffling and too convenient. The end continues this, and although it brings back the legal guardian aspect, the resolution of the mob boss deciding to work with Marla is anticlimactic and unconvincing. It felt too rushed. There needed to be more time for it, as the entire ending feels like an afterthought.
Another issue I had with the film was I felt that the main character was a bit lacking. Rosamund Pike is brilliant as always but her character appears to be copied and pasted from the role she played in Gone Girl, but with not nearly as much depth. The cold and calculated manipulative personality and the rebellious monologues scream Amy Dunne. Further similarities to David Fincher’s films can be found in the visuals that sometimes feel like a more vibrant version of his own and the electronic score sounds a lot like the type of music Trent Reznor makes for him.
I did also find it hard to care about Marla and Fran when all the thriller aspects start to kick in. It works in the first act because there’s a kind of love-hate relationship going on. There’s that feeling of wanting them to get what’s coming for them. However when terrible things start to happen to them with the mob boss, the film wants me to be on their side but there just isn’t much here to justify that. I was sitting thinking to myself: “Well they deserve it though?” Granted there is their romance which is a little effective but not much time is spent on it. There needs to be more, otherwise the tense moments simply aren’t tense.
I Care a Lot boasts a unique and intriguing first half which is let down by its unimaginative and disappointing second half. It’s by no means a terrible film, it can be quite enjoyable. To me however, it just feels like wasted potential. It feels like the filmmakers were just scratching the surface but gave up way too prematurely.
Target Audience: Ages 15+
Content: Strong Language & Violence
Overall Rating: 5.5/10 – Above Average
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