Playing a bitch is what Rosamund Pike does best, as evidently seen in the otherwise ludicrous Die Another Day (2002) and of course, her career-defining performance as Amy Dunne in David Fincher’s Gone Girl (2014).
In I Care a Lot, she repeats the same feat again, playing a scheming legal guardian named Marla Grayson who made big money by scamming her clients — senior citizens — out of their assets. Working with her partner and lover, Fran (Eiza Gonzalez), they even take control of their lives by putting them in a care home.
Then comes their latest target: a wealthy elderly woman named Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest) being diagnosed with dementia and she happens to have no known family whatsoever. With the help of Dr Karen Amos (Alicia Witt), who is also part of Marla’s elaborate scam, Jennifer Peterson proves to be a “cherry” on top. More like a goldmine waiting to be unearthed in no time.
Marla thinks she scores big time after successfully put Jennifer in a care home and get ahold of her asset, covering everything from auctioning off her prized belongings to accessing Jennifer’s safety deposit box. Unfortunately, what she doesn’t realise is that Jennifer has connections with a shady Russian mafia leader named Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage).
Pike is in top form here, whose steely and cold-as-ice demeanour hits the right spot for her role as Marla Grayson. Her co-star, Eiza Gonzalez is just as good with her perfectly feisty supporting turn as Fran. Dianne Weist and Peter Dinklage did great jobs in their respective roles as well while Chris Messina shows up in a small but memorable role as Roman’s lawyer. His scene where he tries to talk Marla out of releasing Jennifer Petersen by offering her a sum is nevertheless among the best moments in this film.
Kudos also go to writer-director J Blakeson, whose whip-smart script moulded in a black-comedy style is particularly effective during the first half of the film. I’ve particularly enjoyed the entertaining mechanism of how Marla’s elaborate scam works in swindling wealthy senior citizens. It’s the kind of film that shows no remorse upon taking advantages of the weak while almost all of the characters here are unlikeable. It is as cold as it goes but J Blakeson manages to keep things moving in an engrossing way possible.
However, I Care a Lot starts to fumble once the movie ventures into the crime-thriller territory. Don’t get me wrong, the fun is still there but J Blakeson’s otherwise razor-sharp direction turns increasingly mellow as the movie reaches the end.
Still, I Care a Lot remains an above-average directorial effort from J Blakeson, whose prior credits include The Disappearance of Alice Creed (2010) and The 5th Wave (2016). And of course, it’s nice to see Rosamund Pike back in the familiar role that we love to hate her in the first place.
You can stream I Care a Lot on Netflix beginning February 19, 2021 onwards.