- Nate Adams
Review: Rosamund Pike goes for the jugular in suave thriller 'I Care a Lot'
Courtesy of Netflix
Watching Rosamund Pike chew up the screen much in the same way she did in her Oscar nominated performance ala “Gone Girl” makes for a perfect comedic thriller. British writer-director J Blakeson - whose highest profile film belongs to “The 5th Wave” - finds the proper balance between satire and unsettling while unleashing a savage anti-hero turn from Pike in what is a delectably enjoyable outing that isn’t afraid to go for the jugular.
Pike takes the reins as Marla Grayson, a well mannered legal guardian who manipulates the system for monetary gain, using her position to liquidate assets from eldery wards deemed incapacitated by a judge (and vapes while doing it). When pressed in court by children who question her conduct, Grayson is a viper ready to slash kneecaps with litigation jargon the average citizen wouldn’t understand. Grayson, along with her girlfriend Fran (Eliza Gonzalez), has quite the scam cooking and the network of doctors, nurses, and retirement home facilitators on speed dial who allow them to seamlessly bankrupt their patients without flinching.
When presented with what Grayson and her cronies call a “cherry” (or an eldery woman with no family to intervene on their behalf and is wealthy), Marla and Fran hit the jackpot. That is until they learn Jennifer (Dianne Wiest - wonderfully diabolical) - their new piggy bank - has some friends in dark places who aren’t willing to let her rot inside a retirement home. And suddenly Marla and Fran are weaving through a web of conspiracies related to the mafia and gangsters eager to make them pay - including Peter Dinklage who aces his role as the manic, unpredictable baddie hellbent on destroying Grayson’s empire.
“I Care a Lot” doesn’t offer the audience an ounce of humanity as these characters are ruthless with no moral compass. Part of the film’s allure is the set-up, and in the first hour Blakeson doesn’t let off the gas, slowly peeling back the layers of these individuals and trusting the viewer to pinpoint how and when they’ll eventually intersect. Ironically, it’s when that initial narrative structure is built that “I Care a Lot” starts running out of steam. Those first 60 minutes are paced exceptionally and Mark Eckersley’s editing gets the spotlight, but when the ruse is exposed and we start seeing the path forward, “I Care a Lot” strays into conventional, laggy territory.
Still, Pike is fearless and her sly charm anchors the mindless, dreary patches. This is a character who works best under pressure and isn’t afraid to extract their needs under any circumstance. Blakeson is smart to humanize this python with her relationship to Fran which is actually believable, but the way Marla acts against the framework of his screenplay is where things get delicious. Marc Canham’s score steals several scenes, especially when it's pumping during key confrontations among Wiest, Dinklage and Pike. Watching these heavy hitters try and settle the score, which builds to a jaw-dropping final scene, had me caring a lot about this stylish little thriller.
I CARE A LOT debuts on Netflix Friday, February 19th