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REVIEW: I Care a Lot (2021)

Rosamund Pike has had an eclectic career starring in both small UK films and larger scale Hollywood blockbusters like Gone Girl which earned her an Oscar Nomination in 2015.  Pike’s latest – I Care A Lot – from director J Blakeson has earned comparisons to Gone Girl. Pike plays Marla Grayson, a relentless con artist who has taken guardianship of a series of elderly individuals, cutting off their contact from the outside world and in the process, stealing their homes and wealth in what appear to be a legal manner. Grayson is assisted in her endeavours by Fran (Eiza González).

What starts out as a fairly routine guardianship case for the pair quickly morphs into something completely different as the pair are drawn into death threats and the criminal underworld, specifically Peter Dinklage’s Roman Lunyov who has a vested interest in the seemingly ordinary Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest).

The film’s second act deviates somewhat from what viewers may expect given the nature of the film’s subject matter and it does become quite over-the-top in places, but its unpredictable nature and sheer sense of fun makes it compelling viewing.  The shift towards a more conventional thriller ups the stakes and scale of the film with twists and turns aplenty up to its closing moments.  The moments of goofiness never detract from the fun the cast are having and the sense of ever present danger.

The performances, especially Pike’s help elevate this film beyond its uneven pacing and moments of silliness. Pike has shown she can handle drama with the likes of Gone Girl and comedy with the brilliant State Of The Union and she combines both here to great effect fully investing in the heavier and lighter moments and lighting up the screen every second she is on it. Marla is truly a despicable human being and Pike fully sells Marla’s lack of remorse for her actions and ruthlessness to get to the position she has reached.

Peter Dinklage is a fine foil as the mob boss prone to violent tantrums and the film is nearly stolen from under both of them by Chris Messina as the slippery lawyer Dean Ericson, whose scenes provide some of the scripts sharpest moments. While Dianne Wiest’s Jennifer is a key part of the film’s plot, she is sidelined some-what for the second half of the film and could perhaps have been used to better effect, likewise Eiza González is given a relatively light role in comparison to Pike’s.

The moral ambiguity throughout is one of the films key weapons as none of the cast are good people. Marla and Fran’s exploits are despicable and provide an insight into an issue that has reared its head in American society. In spite of the excellence of Pike’s performance, it is hard to root for Marla, however we can’t be expected to root for hitmen either. In many ways, this film deconstructs the traditional image of the American Dream, the individuals we see across the film have got to prominent positions by committing dastardly deeds.

The costume design has to be applauded, as the outfits worn especially by Marla are eye-catching and stylish to a T, helping to provide a glamour and chic to offset her ice cold behaviour.  The film’s score deserves a mention too, with Marc Canham building suspense and a persistent unease to keep audiences on edge.

I Care A Lot is an intelligent, constantly unpredictable thriller that deals with a sensitive topic, showcasing the lengths some individuals will go to in order to make money. Anchored by some tremendous performances, especially by Rosamund Pike, who really sells the coldness of Marla and is clearly having an absolute blast with the sharp paced script and is a true menace. The unpredictable nature of the film ensures audiences never know what to expect. I Care A Lot will hopefully inform viewers of some atrocities occurring at the expense of the elderly, at a time when we are more aware of mental health concerns than previously. But it handles this in a fun manner, not becoming overly bogged-down with the mechanics of Marla’s schemes and remains constantly entertaining.  J Blakeson has done a fine job, making what on the face of it is an unusual subject matter, into a truly gripping thriller which maximises the talents of its cast.

Rating: ★★★★

Just to keep you on your toes – I Care a Lot is on Netflix in the US and on Prime Video in the UK.

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