12th Mar2021

‘I Care A Lot’ Review (Amazon Prime)

by Chris Thomas

Stars: Rosamund Pike, Dianne Wiest, Peter Dinklage, Eiza González, Chris Messina, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Macon Blair, Alicia Witt | Written and Directed by J Blakeson

Perhaps, in a post-Trump presidency world it is a good time to ask “What is the American dream?”

In I Care A Lot it is cheating, lying, being a lion not a lamb. Playing by the rules is for suckers. This is a tale as black as a Blood Simple or any of the other early Cohen efforts. There is little day light in this murky tale.

Rosamund Pike’s character Marla is a woman of singular vision. She wants to be extremely rich. To this end she willing is to exploit whoever she might need to in order to become one of the elite that gets to make the rules. Marla has created a legal maze of sealed mirrors. She entraps the elderly under her “care” by exploiting a system of care homes, a judge and doctors in order to insulate and exploit the vulnerable, closing them away from their family and friends then selling their assets, milking them for as long as they live. It is her ability to apply Catch 22 style logic to the existing legal system that makes her so dangerous. She is absolutely ruthless.

One day she gets tipped off on a perfect target, a wealthy elderly lady with no family. She politely and smoothly moves the nice old lady into the retirement home, against her will, that will serve as her prison. The lady is confused, but compliant, the letter from the judge, plus a couple of policemen mean she follows. Not everything is as it seems, rather than being the perfect target, the lady proves to be a spider in a web, and to mix analogies, a game of cat and mouse begins. Marla is offered 300,000 dollars by a smooth lawyer in a suite to let the old lady go, but she refuses, she will not back down, and she will not “lose” she “never loses”.

I Care A Lot runs for an hour and 40 minutes and for most of the run time I was gripped. A brilliant cast of actors (Dianne Wiest, Peter Dinklage, Rosamund Pike) absolutely light the screen up. It is really nice to find a thriller that could actually be described as “thrilling” and not “tepid”. The direction is excellent, as is the music and sound design. It is not normal, in film for a woman character to be just as nasty and single minded as the men. But Marla is, and it is something to be applauded.

My reservations about the piece come, only at the end, so if you want to avoid spoilers please just note “I thought the ending was a bit odd, given the subject matter and themes that had led us to that point”.

[Spoiler alert]

Our ending does strike me as odd. In the end, it is an overweight white bloke with a cap and flannel shirt who is the arbiter of karmic justice. Honestly up until this point I think the film was excellent, but how I Care A Lot resolves itself is troubling. I still recommend it, for the tense thriller, brilliant acting and excellent direction that leads to that point but the ending seems to miss the point of everything that came before. A shame. But I Care A Lot is still worth seeing if you like your thrillers thrilling and your subject matter dark.

I Care A Lot is available to stream now on Amazon Prime Video in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand and the UK; and on Netflix in the rest of the world.

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