I Care a Lot
Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eiza Gonzalez, Dianne Wiest, Chris Messina, Isiah Whitlick Jr.
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
It succeeds as chilled and wicked thriller because the only thing colder than its outlook is its reflection in our reality.
Organised crime has certain expectations wrapped around it in the world of popular culture. The tailored suits, the coded conversations, the deals that can’t be refused, the simultaneous alliances and priming for betrayal; in fiction, most audiences know the classic formula when they see it. And it’s not that it doesn’t reflect a certain degree of reality, even today; just that its presence in the modern day is something different. A little more sophisticated. And in some respects, more insidious than even the grizzliest of gangland conflicts.
The latest feature from writer/director J Blakeson (The 5th Wave) explores this within the world of aged care, specifically through the scope of professional legal guardian Marla (Rosamund Pike) and her wheelings and dealings. At once reminiscent of her iconic role in Gone Girl, and yet going even further into sadistic trickery and mind games, Pike serves as the face of aged care as an extension of capitalism. A method of squeezing those last few drops out of its dying population, subverting the human want for care – to care for others in order to game the legal system, reducing flesh and blood into liquid assets.
In typical confidence trickster fashion, the thrill comes from not only seeing Marla at work in her grotesque profession, but also in the possibility that she might have met her match. And when she brings Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest as all things wizened and simmering) into her ‘care’, something’s different from her usual stable of wards. A certain detail that doesn’t fit, a particular asset that seems out of place, and a mysterious figure (Peter Dinklage) with a great amount of concern for her current position.
It plays into the traditional organised crime model, but in its bending of tropes, I Care a Lot highlights how this newer breed of criminal has even colder blood running through their veins. Along with the bigger signifiers of the genre as art aesthetic, one of the main pillars in organised crime on film is that of family. The close-knit unit that looks out for one another, that respect those that sit at the same table, and that turns grifting into a generational business.
Marla doesn’t have that. Her entire area of expertise is predicated on the absence of such respect, of such acknowledgement, and that all that accumulated knowledge and insight into the world is more worthless than priceless. Everyone’s either a digit to be added to a larger sum, or a calculator that pushes those numbers together and squeezes.
I Care A Lot opens with Marla directly addressing the audience on how kindness and looking out for anyone other than No. 1 is a fool’s errand. Audiences may feel the urge to argue against such things, but let’s face it, that argument is only in its morality, not its efficacy. It succeeds as chilled and wicked thriller because the only thing colder than its outlook is its reflection in our reality.