i care a lot

★★★★★

director: j blakeson (the disappearance of alice creed)

starring: rosamund pike, eiza gonzalez, peter dinklage and dianne west

 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

Streaming from february 19 on amazon prime video.

A shady legal guardian lands in hot water when she tries to bilk a woman who has ties to a powerful gangster.

It takes a lot to surprise or shock me when it comes to a film. With franchises and sequels taking a large chunk of the space in film release schedules and with more and more decisions based on algorithms than creativity, the raft of original film making appears to be on the slide. So when a film like I Care A Lot comes along it’s a damn good surprise. I Care A Lot is a delicious and original thriller, confounding preconceived ideas of the genre with a chilling yet darkly delightful performance from Rosamund Pike. One of 2021’s best.  

 

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.

 

I Care A Lot works on every level. Narratively it’s a sleek, twisting thriller punctuated by surprises at nearly every turn. When your assumptions of the genre make you believe the story is going a certain way it dumps those assumptions on their head and starts off in a completely different direction. 

It’s a particular art to do that well within the narrative structure without it feeling like a gimmick, but earned instead. And at the heart of the plot, Grayson’s senior citizen racket, carries a ring of societal truth in a global context but also within New Zealand with recent cases of elder abuse coming to light. Again it’s not only a believable plot but there is also a critique of Western societal attitudes towards the elderly bubbling under the surface. 

But no matter how well the script was crafted, without the right actress in the role of Grayson I Care A Lot wouldn’t carry the same cherry kissed punch that it does. Rosamund Pike proves once more why she is one of the best, if not underrated, actresses working today.

 

She is disarmingly poised and alluring while a steely, ruthlessness simmers below the surface. And as her racket slowly crumbles before her eyes, we see her face the growing threats that far outnumber her with cunning and grittiness. Even though Grayson is a bit deplorable we cannot help but warm to her and hope for her to succeed against the growing odds and that’s all down to what Pike brings to the role. 

I Care A Lot is a delicious and original thriller, confounding preconceived ideas of the genre with a chilling yet darkly delightful performance from Rosamund Pike. One of 2021’s best.  

★★★★★

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