Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 58 minutes, Director – J Blakeson
A woman (Rosamund Pike) who gains the trust and confidence of the wealthy elderly by becoming their guardian steals from the wrong person (Dianne Wiest) when her gangster son (Peter Dinklage) gets involved.
“Playing fair is a joke invented by rich people to keep the rest of us poor” explains Rosamund Pike’s Marla Grayson at the top of writer-director J Blakeson’s I Care A Lot. Marla is a guardian for many elderly people, making sure they get put in good care homes and that things turn out well for them. She’s a trustworthy person and as the kids of these wealthy figures begin to visit less their relationship with Marla grows, entrusting her with their savings, and sometimes leaving something substantial in their wills. However, it’s Marla behind the family not being able to visit, she acts as her own lawyer and finds ways to help the judge rule in her favour. To avoid such trouble she attempts to get a doctor associate (Alicia Witt) to assign her people with no family, and then manipulates the patients, sometimes making them feel ill or forcibly deteriorated, with the help of her partner Fran (Eiza González), simply to get their money.
Pike is gleefully evil throughout the film, a roaring performance of initially quiet menace that turns into raging threat. Her hints of facial expressions and hidden intentions add to the character and make her even more of an unsympathetic antagonistic focus. Never does the viewer get behind or want to support her character, everyone is just as bad and malicious as each other in this piece. Sympathy goes towards Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest), the perfectly fine old lady who Marla takes on and abuses in the hope of stealing a fortune worthy hundreds and thousands of dollars. However, things soon take a turn when Jennifer’s gangster son (Peter Dinklage) gets involved. Soon Blakeson’s film finds itself taking a number of sharp, detailed twists and turns. The thriller themes of the film are set in and the fast pace escalates truly making for something tense, engaging and definitely interesting.
It’s testament to both Blakeson and the performances that the actors give that such high levels of tension can be created without it being directed towards any of the characters. We know that all of them are doing wrong, yet there’s still tension, perhaps the fact it isn’t specifically for anyone makes it greater as it has nowhere to go. Even the finely handled one on one conversational scenes and courtroom sequences have their high levels of drama, and in many ways hold the true detail of the film and build up some of the larger, more action like moments.
All the way through each parties true malicious extents are explored. The question “what lines will I cross?” is continuously asked and advanced. While the narrative certainly focuses on Pike there’s plenty of glimpses into the minds and behaviours of those around her, both those she has close relationships with and those that are trying to track her down and get their revenge. Yet, never does the film feel too heavy or as if it’s trying to pack in too much information. Everything is balanced and carefully formed for a cleverly thought through and executed narrative. The occasional montages looking at multiple areas help to keep up with each figure and simply ramps up the excitement further. Excitement of what will happen when these two opposing forces of evil finally meet. One with mindful evil the other violent. It forms a true clash that you can’t help but be caught up and invested in the tension of. With a fantastically twisted lead performance from Rosamund Pike there’s a lot to love about this deliriously escalating thriller, apart from the characters.
Rosamund Pike is fantastic in the lead role of I Care A Lot, a sensationally tense thriller filled with gleefully villainous figures at every twist and turn.