The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Amazon Prime Video] - I CARE A LOT | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Amazon Prime Video] - I CARE A LOT

i care a lot review
A legal guardian's scam, which involves placing elderly people into her care and stripping their assets, sees her make a dangerous enemy.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: J Blakeson

Starring: Rosamund Pike, Eiza Gonzalez, Dianne Wiest, Peter Dinklage, Chris Messina, Macon Blair, Alicia Witt, Damian Young, Isiah Whitlock Jr

i care a lot poster

Writer/director J Blakeson's I Care a Lot is a completely original creation, yet it often feels like a neutered, toothless American remake of some savage piece of satire from Korea or Scandinavia. Its setup is so juicy that you might assume someone somewhere must have come up with this idea already, and surely they made a better fist of it than Blakeson?

i care a lot review

The setup really is the definition of "high concept." Rosamund Pike is Marla Grayson, a potentially iconic villain who runs a despicable scam whereby with the assistance of various other crooked professionals, she has elderly people declared incompetent and appointed to her care as legal guardian. While her victims are confined to nursing homes, Marla and her lover Fran (Eiza González) strip their assets.

Marla believes she has found a perfect victim in the form of Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest), a retired woman who appears to have no family. But once Jennifer is caged in a retirement home, Marla learns that her latest dupe is secretly the mother of notorious mobster Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage), who will stop at nothing to free his mom from Marla's clutches.

i care a lot review

All the ingredients are in place for a black as night comedy, and initially I Care a Lot appears to be aiming for something close to Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with its tale of a reprehensible con artist finally meeting their match. Sporting a bob cut so sharp it must have left her shoulders scarred, Pike is ideally cast as the sociopathic ice queen and there's fun to be had in watching her revel in her character's nastiness. Women rarely get to be assholes in mainstream American movies now, and lesbians never get to be assholes, so it's refreshing to see a very modern take on the sort of role Barbara Stanwyck might have played had this been made in the 1930s.

But after the opening act, I Care a Lot switches gears and becomes a rather straight thriller, albeit one that visually resembles a comedy, with characters sporting eye-popping fashions against primary coloured backdrops. The potentially tasty battle of wits between Pike's Marla and Wiest's Jennifer is quickly tossed aside as Dinklage's generic gangster takes centre stage instead. There are a couple of confrontations between Pike and Wiest that hint at the far more involving movie this might have been, with both actresses at the top of their game, but Wiest soon disappears, the film ironically doing to the veteran actress what Marla does to Jennifer. Instead we're left to watch blandly written confrontations between Roman and Marla that play like outtakes from some awful '90s Tarantino knockoff.

i care a lot review

The main problem with I Care a Lot is that it gives us a protagonist whose actions are so unforgivably callous that it presents a real challenge to a filmmaker to get us on their side. I get the feeling that Blakeson thinks he's making some sort of feminist statement here, and that we'll side with Marla against Roman simply because she's a woman, and a lesbian to boot. It says a lot about America's twisted morality that a movie posits a drug dealer as a greater evil than someone who essentially kidnaps and gaslights old people in order to steal their money. Of course, awful people can make for great protagonists, but given her actions, Marla needs to be a hell of a lot more charismatic than the one-note ice maiden we're presented with here. As you can probably tell, I didn't care a lot for I Care a Lot, but I would certainly watch a Korean or Scandinavian remake.

I Care a Lot
 is on Amazon Prime Video UK now.

2021 movie reviews