Rosamund Pike – with whom, I admit, I haven’t revisited since she oh-so-memorably Gone Girld her way to her first Academy Award nomination (I ought to check out A Private War and Radioactive, in which she portrays Marie Curie) – well, she’s back, playing hell-on-heels power caretaker/swindler or the elderly, Marla Grayson, in writer-director J Blakeson’s twisted cautionary tale I Care a Lot.
And you should, too.
Pike is the rotten core of this most juicy “nasty” comment on legal malfeasance so untoward, I hope you will consider the welfare of your senior community (and yours) much more carefully moving forward. In this #FreeBritney moment, a movie like this one, on a platform like Netflix, which premiered the Golden Globe-nominated thing this weekend, can help push the conversation around guardianships and conservatorships, and the inherent power issues, or hinder it. Happy to report I Care a Lot succeeds in dramatizing the lengths, heights, and lows to which an inventive con can go, particularly when it is run by someone like Pike’s Marla Grayson.
To think shit like this happens.
What Marla does – bilking bubbe, disabusing grandpa of his savings, robbin’ like, a small century village of their dignity, their lives, themselves – is mean. Not that it matters, for it most certainly does not: To Marla, either you eat or you get eaten.
And she most def ain’t prey.
And oh is she gon’ eat…she gon’ eat well.
Pike and costume designer Deborah Newhall arm Marla with so much power; the actress with her trademark towering-and-exquisitely tailored elegance, which belies Marla’s ferocious, predatory instincts and predilections, Newhall with sharp, yet surprising whimsy in the shape of confident color choices that complement or compel and captivate the eye, unexpected in a movie about grandparents getting taken for a ride. (Shout-outs to the hair & make-up and production design teams.)
Together with Fran (Eiza González), her partner in business and love, Marla runs a racket that goes a little something like this: She gets herself court-appointed as conservatrix, legal guardian, for dozens of older wards, and then she moves on their assets like a bitch.
There is no redeeming quality to Marla or Fran, to say nothing more of the veritable gang of deviant caretakers they’ve ensnared in their web of corruption and deception. When the latest “cherry” they picked as mark, a seemingly uneventful lady named Jennifer Peterson played by Oscar winner Dianne Wiest, turns out to have a connect to a fearsome Russian gangster (Peter Dinklage), the horrible fiction of it all grounds itself, if that makes sense, allowing the bitter taste of any what-ifs I Care a Lot may have led you to ponder, well…to simma. And then, the stakes rise for our good ol’ anti-heroine.
Swallow. Remember…we #TeamMarla. Get a hold of yourself.
Blakeson shifts to a comfortable rhythm that leads to these nuanced emotional beats, as Wiest’s Jennifer, her body under medical and emotional assault, struggles to hold on to her tartiest self; as Fran wonders if Marla will ever love her more than the con; as Dinklage and Pike go tête-à-tête, two avowed deplorables, trying to out-asshole each other, because end o’ the day, that’s simply who they are and what they do.
We are all some kind of asshole or another to some someone or another, trying to survive in this world, after all.
Eat or be eaten.
Marla Grayson knows where she lands on that one. And as much as she does know herself, it’s wicked fun to see her surprise herself, still. Too bad she still had to get hers in the end, huh.