Writer/director J Blakeson’s (famous for the stylish, haunting thriller “The Disappearance of Alice Creed”) latest “I Care a Lot,” streaming on Netflix this week, is a psychological thriller with wicked twists and dark humor. Starring the dynamite Rosemond Pike, now nominated for Golden Globe for her performance here, and a great ensemble, the film turns its interesting premise of systemic failures of our capitalist society into an intense and occasionally funny ride.
Pike plays the ambitious Marla Grayson. She is a court-appointed protector of the elderly who introduces herself to us in the opening as “a f**king lioness.” She is a cold, monstrous legal criminal with her razor-snipped blonde hair and sharp outfits, and yet, she fools judges and doctors by putting on a facade and takes advantage of the elderly who don’t have family or resources. Long story short, what Marla do for living is using her networks of nursing facilities and convincing the court to make elderly wards of the state, then gradually taking over elderly lives (financially, to be specific). This is basically “kidnapping,” but I can imagine Marla will argue she is seeing a profitable opportunity in the flawed system like most of the wealthy entrepreneurs do.
The business goes really well with Marla’s partner Fran (Eiza González), also her girlfriend, until they target an old lady Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest) who starts to show early signs of dementia and doesn’t have family. Marla calls Jennifer a “cherry” because she’s relatively quite young, so they can drain her for years. In the blink of an eye, Marla is assigned as Jennifer’s protector. Jennifer is ripped out of her house, sent to a facility, being drugged, and not allow to contact anyone without Marla’s permission – basically, Marla is making her a prisoner.
It’s just horrifying to see how easy the broken predatory health care system can take away everything the silence victims used to have for a lifetime. But then, Marla realizes that Jennifer may be a deadly wrong target. Turns out, Jennifer has something to do with a vicious crime lord Roman Lunyov (played by the great Peter Dinklage). After Marla refuses to release Jennifer even Roman makes an enormous offer, “I Care a Lot” jumps from a social commentary con-trick to an suspenful thriller as Roman learns that Marla will fight against anyone who threatens to take things away from her.
“I Care a Lot” is a film about an anti-heroine (or you can call Marla a female villain) and is proud of it as Blakeson and Pike never make excuses for her evil behavior. You probably won’t root for her despicable success, but the film will keep you on the edge of the seat to wait and see if she will win in the end. With this, we have to give most of the credits to Pike. From Bond girl to period dramas to Amy Dunne in David Fincher’s “Gone Girl,” Pike has proved that she can go really far and she’s capable of doing anything she wants. “I Care a Lot” is, without a doubt, her strongest, icy-coldest performance since “Gone Girl,” while her most emotional one since “A Private War.”
Despite the pacing and tone are sometimes inconsistent, “I Care a Lot,” fundamentally, talks about the greedy capitalism with several social, political commentaries. After seeing so many actual cases of system failure (one of the episodes from Netflix documentary series “Dirty Money” focuses on the failed predatory health care system in the US. Go watch it, you will be furious), the film depicts the rage towards the problems as well as showing us how a female is inspired by an entirely wrong system then turns her empowerment into an inhuman, dangerous game.
- Distributor: Netflix
- Production: Black Bear Pictures and Crimple Beck
- Director: J Blakeson
- Writer: J Blakeson
- Producer: J Blakeson, Michael Heimler, Teddy Schwarzman, and Ben Stillman
- Cast: Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eiza González, Dianne Wiest, Chris Messina, and Isiah Whitlock Jr.
- “I Care a Lot” premiered at Toronto International Film Festival 2020. Available on Netflix Feb. 19, 2021
Read the review in Chinese