I Care a Lot‘s story is fresh, really unconventional. It’s a nasty crime film that manages to be completely compassion-free. Pike is sensational here.
It’s rare for any type of crime film that goes beyond its first act without resorting to every other generic crime film cliche. Roger Ebert once said this genre always has original openings and the rest of the story goes on autopilot. I Care a Lot is not that kind of crime film. A thrilling exploration of moral ambiguity and reprehensible behavior with a story that is fresh, just really unconventional. J Blakeson’s film is a nasty crime film that manages to be completely compassion-free.
Blakeson’s film stars Rosamund Pike as Marla Grayson, a well-respected legal guardian who selflessly looks after the interests of older adults who can’t take care of themselves or have anyone to do it for them. Grayson though is a confidence woman. She gains the trust of the sick, judicial officials, and designs schemes to get kickbacks.
Ms. Grayson just doesn’t get a fee for her services, she guts her client’s homes and gets a cut of the nursing home’s profits for placing them in a luxurious overpriced prison. She also pays off doctors to sign off on their client’s incapacity. It’s the perfect legal loophole and draws your attention to just how much the system is based on relationships.
Her partner in crime is her right-hand woman, Fran (Eiza Gonzales) is her muscle. She picks up the ball when others can’t or has the ethics and values not to. They soon fan their “cheery” as a doctor has a rich woman, Ms. Peterson (the great Dianne Wiest), with no family and a portfolio that would make the Hammer family blush, and is close to showing full blown signs of dementia. Well, they picked the wrong woman because when she tries to bilk her, a shady gangster (Peter Dinklage, so good here) with a connection to her takes notice.
I Care a Lot is a visceral experience that brings out the feelings of outrage watching an advocate take advantage, swindle, and imprison older adults for their own gain that’s utterly reprehensible. We have seen that before, but this is a feminist film. Women can be scumbags too and smart ones at that. Grayson does everything a man can do, better, with more evil intent. Blakeson’s script has you openly rooting for the protagonist’s demise yet marveling at her own indifference.
Pike is sensational here. She’s a survivor who takes what she wants, doesn’t apologize to anyone for her behavior, and does it with a smile to boot. It’s a thrilling character study of an exploration of this woman’s own moral ambiguity or lack thereof. Marla Grayson is the best role and performance of her career. Yes, even better than Gone Girl.
I Care a Lot is a refreshing, visceral crime thriller that hits below the belt, hard and often. Along with Blakeson’s smart script, this is the type of feminist film we need to get behind.