I Care A Lot


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

I Care A Lot
"Pike won a Golden Globe for this performance and it's well deserved."

"There are two kinds of people in this world," says Marla (Rosamund Pike), "lions and lambs." Nobody seems to have explained to her that wild sheep will happily eat meat when they can get it. In her black and white world of predators and prey, she sees herself as a lioness, applying a Nietzschean justification to her exploitation of those she sees as natural prey: old people, preferably rich, preferably slightly confused. Getting herself appointed as their legal guardian, she shunts them into care homes and systematically strips them of their assets, using the money to pay herself a generous wage and sometimes directly pilfering choice items along the way. She has a network of allies in medicine and the courts so it's easy for her to stay out of trouble - until she inadvertently targets the wrong woman.

Since Steven Yeun broke the mould in Burning, movie sociopaths have been getting more complex. it's no longer enough to portray them as completely emotionless. Pike won a Golden Globe for this performance and it's well deserved. Marla is always positioned as an anti-hero, not someone we are actually expected to like, but she does have feelings and even a degree of empathy, with a strong attachment to her partner Fran (Eiza González), who sometimes helps her in her scams. This makes her interesting enough for viewers to stick with as what looked like the perfect job descends into chaos and she finds herself getting shot at, beaten and worse.

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Dianne Wiest gives an alternately touching and ferocious performance as Susan, the little old lady with a secret past. Resourceful though she is, she finds herself rendered helpless by a system which systemically robs patients of their voices, whether by imprisonment and the direct application of force or simply by addling her mind with drugs. There's some pointed criticism here of a healthcare system full of nasty traps for vulnerable people with ripe insurance policies which provide a direct financial motive for keeping them in treatment regimes which they may or may not need. Susan however, has a powerful ally in the shape of Peter Dinklage's angry crime boss. Whilst it's a nice idea, this part of the plot isn't very well developed and relies heavily on the likeable persona that Dinklage has built up elsewhere, even as he shouts and throws things. It's a waste of his talent but even in these circumstances, he remains very watchable.

Viewers may note that for all the difference in tone, there is a resemblance here to the plot of Lars Von Trier's Dogville, and indeed, if Marla had watched that then she might have saved herself a bit of trouble. Used to being on top and not quite as tough as she thinks she is, she gets into serious trouble, but she's tough enough for us to accept that she won't be immediately crushed, even if the plot relies a bit too much on Dinklage's character doing things in roundabout ways which give her second chances. Parts of this are mined for comedy and there's a playfulness to the film overall, but it doesn't forget the seriousness of its subject matter.

Whilst it would have been nice to see the story structure tightened up a bit here, Pike and Weist make it worth watching, and it's entertaining enough as a thriller even if it barely scratches the surface of the real horror underneath.

Reviewed on: 04 Mar 2021
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I Care A Lot packshot
A crooked legal guardian who drains the savings of her elderly wards meets her match when a woman she tries to swindle turns out to be more than she first appears.

Director: J Blakeson

Writer: J Blakeson

Starring: Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eiza González, Dianne Wiest, Chris Messina

Year: 2020

Runtime: 118 minutes

Country: US, UK


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