Rosamund Pike’s performance is one of the best things this film has to offer
The film I Care A Lot, directed by J Blakeson, first premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2020. The dark comedy thriller was later released in Canada for widespread streaming on Feb. 19 on Amazon Prime Video.
Marla Grayson, played by Rosamund Pike, is a legal guardian who preys on elderly people to make them her legal wards. Once they’re under her guardianship, she takes control of their finances, cuts off access to their families by putting them in care homes, and then sells their possessions pocketing the money.
When a complicit doctor hands over the seemingly perfect file of Jennifer, played by Diane Weist, Marla takes advantage of the courts to make Jennifer her ward. Court order in hand, Fran, Marla’s girlfriend and accomplice played by Eliza Gonzales, shows up to Jennifer’s house to tell her she is now Marla’s ward. However, Marla soon discovers that this woman is not who she seems when a mafia boss, played by Peter Dinklage, gets involved, stopping at nothing to free Jennifer from Marla’s guardianship.
What ensues is a suspenseful battle between two characters who refuse to lose. The mafia gets involved — things get unpredictable. We’re never quite sure who will emerge victorious.
Pike’s performance as the villain is absolutely chilling. The viewer is first introduced to her character in court as a family member of one of her wards pleads the judge to release them from her guardianship. Marla is stoic in defending her position as the family member emotionally demands to see their loved one after extended time apart. Pike perfectly balances subtle confidence with chilling power — her performance is one of the best things this film has to offer.
One weaker aspect of the film is the script, particularly its over-reliance on spoon-fed narrative. One instance of this is the opening which is a monologue from Marla, in which she divides people into two categories: “people who take and those getting took. Predators and prey. Lions and lambs”. She goes on to say that she is not a lamb, but a lioness. This line feels redundant, and in truth, a little cheesy. Within the exposition of the film, it’s made abundantly clear through her actions and demeanor that she’s the predator, and not the prey. There are a few instances where the dialogue is not especially strong, where subtext doesn’t prevail.
To be frank, I Care A Lot has moments that are difficult to watch. For one, watching Marla play by the rules to get what she wants — that is, using the authority of medical professionals and favourable court rulings, is sickening to watch. Watching people lose control of their lives and ownership of their possessions in a court case which they did not even know about will make viewers upset.
What makes this worse is that the film did not invent any of this; it echoes real guardianship cases like the one of Rudy and Rennie North, an American couple from Las Vegas that became wards of April Parks, who then took control of their estate, sold off their possessions, pocketed the money, and charged the couple exorbitant fees for her services.
While you may think there is no way people can end up in a situation where they lose control over their lives like what is shown in the film, it’s all too true. This film is worth the watch for its content and performances alone, even in the presence of a subpar script.