Sometimes a film comes along and it absolutely blows your mind. From its original concept to the structure of its screenplay, the perfection on behalf of its casting, and the care, focus and attention to detail that is given to its design, cinematography, mise-en-scene and score. I Care A Lot is one of these films. Breathtakingly original, and sharp as a razor, this clever and dark comedic-thriller keeps you wrapped up in its twisting narrative the whole way through and is one hell of a film to watch!
Poised with sharklike self-assurance, Marla Grayson (Academy Award® nominee Rosamund Pike) is a professional, court-appointed guardian for dozens of elderly wards whose assets she seizes and cunningly bilks through dubious but legal means. It’s a well-oiled racket that Marla and her business partner and lover Fran (Eiza González) use with brutal efficiency on their latest “cherry,” Jennifer Peterson (two-time Academy Award® winner Dianne Wiest) — a wealthy retiree with no living heirs or family. But when their mark turns out to have an equally shady secret of her own and connections to a volatile gangster (Golden Globe winner Peter Dinklage), Marla is forced to level up in a game only predators can play — one that’s neither fair, nor square.
Director J Blakeson (The Disappearance of Alice Creed) takes audiences on a dark and deranged journey in this razor-sharp thriller. Part character study, party black comedy, part edge-of-your-seat thriller, I Care A Lot is a thoroughly original concept and takes you on a very twisting journey which is sure to shock and surprise at every step. In my own opinion, the less that is said about this film’s narrative leads to a better viewing experience for audiences, and in my own personal view, I Care A Lot is the most original film I’ve seen since Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy. And this all comes down to Blakeson’s vision and talent as a filmmaker.
Audiences will really get a kick out of I Care A Lot, and Blakeson’s unique remix of genre and story is sure to keep you on edge. Violent, deranged, comically hysterical and utterly shocking, Blakeson introduces you to a range of characters who are each more twisted than the next, and his exploration of the themes of success and survival makes for a very interesting watch. Blakeson toys with his audience from beginning to end and the result is an extremely exciting piece of cinema that you can’t look away from.
Standing in as I Care A Lot’s central character is Rosamund Pike as ultra-sharp legal guardian Marla Grayson. A corporate lioness on the hunt in a modern-day savannah, Marla is determined to succeed in a hyper-capitalistic world and has forgone any kind of moral obligation or ethical boundaries in her pursuit of success and wealth. She’s a crafty, manipulative go-getter who has found a perfect niche in life as a legal guardian, which allows her to fleece her clients of their life long savings…..until she chooses one mark who turns out to be anything but a nice old lady.
Pike absolutely commits as Marla and she takes audiences on a dramatic, thrilling and sometimes terrifying journey as she simply won’t give up until she gets what’s hers. She gives Marla unwavering confidence and moral superiority, alongside a crooked smile and ‘sweet’ demeanour that underneath hides a dangerous and morally bankrupt person. And it’s enjoyable to see Pike shift and slide throughout the film’s narrative. In one scene you’ll hate Marla, then in the next, you’ll love her. There’s a strong complexity to Marla’s character and this is all down to the strength of Pike’s performance and her talent for playing very bad girls. Marla Grayson is a true cinema original and Pike’s performance is sure to stay with audiences.
Facing off against Pike’s Marla is Peter Dinklage as the nefarious Roman Lunyov. A dangerous, sadistic character who the less is said about the better, but who grows particularly tried of Marla’s ‘schemes’ and who desires to make an example of her. This is Dinklage like we’ve never seen him before, and he again brings his A-game talent to this very dark character. As an audience member its fun to see these two characters sparring together on screen, their battle of wills growing more dangerous by the minute. Like Pike, Dinklage keeps the audience on edge, and you never know what he’s going to do next as this unpredictable and extremely volatile character.
I Care A Lot’s wild card entry is noted performer Dianne Wiest as Jennifer Peterson, an elderly lady who is the target of Marla’s latest scam and who is anything but what she pretends to be. Wiest has made a career playing sweet, good-natured characters and Blakeson uses this to his advantage in presenting a character that we’ve never seen Wiest play before and she gives Pike a real run for her money here.
Alongside its standout narrative and performances, I Care A Lot is a meticulously designed piece of cinema from a visual standpoint with cinematography, production design, costuming and score all drawing you into the action that unfold on screen. Whether it’s the neon shaded hues and dark shadows of cinematographer Doug Emmett’s visuals, or the sickly, overly polished ‘prison-like’ space of a retirement village, or Marla’s sharply tailored pantsuit wardrobe in bright primary colours, all of it draws you in and makes for a solid feast for the eyes.
Part of the fun of I Care A Lot from a viewing standpoint is you never know where this narrative is going to take you and the resulting film is filled with twists, turns and sucker punches you just can’t see coming. With his film, Blakeson takes an interesting look at ideas of success and capitalism in action, and with a character who is so goal-focused as Marla it’s hard not to look away. Another fun thing about this film is just how unlikeable and repugnant all of these characters are, and as an audience member this aspect of the film toys with your emotions as these characters play their game and this leads up until the film’s shocking final scene.
I Care A Lot is one of the cleverest, most original pieces of cinema I’ve ever come across and in my mind could well end up being the best film of the year. It’s a piece of cinema that keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole way through and really does something interesting with notions of character and genre. See this one immediately, because you don’t want to miss out on it.
Image: Amazon Prime Video