Sunday, September 13, 2020

I Care a Lot: Movie Review

Cynicism guides this dark comedy thriller.

I Care a Lot has a rhythmic opening scene. A man, desperate to be heard, causes a physical disturbance at a nursing home. He wants to see his mother, but he’s not allowed. Meet Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike) who happens to be the legal guardian of this man’s mother. She’s a lawyer who the courts have put in charge of caring for older folks who can no longer take care of themselves.   2020

Directed by: J Blakeson

Screenplay by: J Blakeson

Starring: Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage

The judge says that she’s an upstanding member of this community, but that just really means that she’s rich and hot and therefore the court reserves the right to help make her richer. This is a dark comedy thriller, but please also note it’s as cynical as you can get. No main character cares about any other person beyond the extent that they can help get them richer. Chris Messina (in a role that is way too brief) has a great line equating Marla’s scams with the American dream.

Marla takes a puff of her nicotine inhaler and blows smoke just as she makes a phone call to delve into her next scam. Marla proudly calls herself a lioness – smart, determined, brave and tough. She also calls herself a guardian and yet none of her positive characteristics include caring, compassion, sympathy or empathy. Those qualities don’t exist in this film. Greed, cynicism and power are the only defining attributes.

These characters, primarily Marla, are all anti-heroes. They are all looking out for money and themselves, and I think that’s the one noticeable detraction from the film. Marla’s partner in crime, Fran (Eiza Gonzalez), is also her partner in life. A romantic relationship that could be very lovely except for the fact that I do not believe that any of these characters have any concept about how to care for another human being.

There are some smart twists as the film keeps going. What starts as a quiet, slick thriller, turns into a more violent, messy thriller. Some turns are extreme like a gun fight in a nursing home that strikes an oxygen tank. There is a lot of chaotic and crazy energy. Characters who should be dead but get up and go about their day. It is well made, but also insane. Cue the Gone Girl comparisons.

I was along for the ride the entire way – there’s originality to the plot, good performances, striking imagery, but also a distinct lack of human connection. There’s only one character in the entire movie who presumably cared about another human being more than money, and we can easily deduce what happened to him.