I CARE A LOT (2021) is a strange name for a cutthroat thriller with moments of dark comedy, but it’s called that because its main character Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike, giving a diabolical performance) runs a get-rich scam operation as a caregiver and legal guardian for the elderly who can no longer care for themselves, but in Marla’s case, she seeks out her clients, going after the ones with few family connections left and lots of wealth, so she can steal it all, once they’re in an assisted living home.
It’s the type of movie you will like if you don’t mind the fact that nearly every one in it is absolutely despicable.
If you remember the Netflix show HOUSE OF CARDS (2013-18) with Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, I CARE A LOT possesses a lot of that same vicious vibe, except rather than D.C. politics, it centers on the health care system, and how Marla exploits it.
Marla Grayson and her partner Fran (Eliza Gonzalez) seek out elderly marks who they can exploit, and they do so with the help of a doctor (Alicia Witt) who falsifies documents for a piece of the cut, and an unsuspecting judge (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.) who always rules in Marla’s favor. Hence, Marla is shrewd enough to always keep the law on her side.
But when Marla and Fran discover who they believe to be the perfect mark, a woman with no family connections Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest), they are ecstatic. They are even happier when they discover unclaimed diamonds in Jennifer’s safety deposit box. Their exuberance is short-lived when they begin to receive threats that if they don’t release Jennifer from the nursing home, there will be consequences. Marla ignores the threats, and after some more digging, they discover that Jennifer Peterson is not who she claims to be, and that in fact the person who wants her released, Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage) has connections to the Russian mafia.
Even so, Marla refuses to be intimidated.
And that’s when things get ugly.
I enjoyed I CARE A LOT, even though you’d be hard pressed to find even one likable character!
The screenplay by director J Blakeson is on target throughout. It hooked me in within the opening moments of the movie when in a voice over narration Marla explains how playing by the rules is a joke created by rich people to keep the rest of us poor, and she follows that up with the statement that she wants to be rich, really rich. And from there, there is no looking back. The dialogue is sharp throughout, as are the characterizations, and the plot is intriguing.
Rosamund Pike dominates the movie with her cold-hearted ruthless performance as the indomitable Marla Grayson. I’ve enjoyed Pike in a bunch of other movies, including BEIRUT (2018), HOSTILES (2017), and GONE GIRL (2014). Her work here in I CARE A LOT is unlike anything I’ve seen her do before. She loses herself in the role. I was seeing Marla Grayson, not Rosamund Pike.
As he always is, Peter Dinklage was excellent as Roman Lunyov. He possesses a cool, calm demeanor throughout, making his threats all the more effective.
As Jennifer Peterson, Dianne Wiest enjoys some fine moments in a supporting role, especially in the scenes where she gives it right back to Marla. Eliza Gonzalez is also notable as Marla’s partner Fran, and two other memorable supporting performances include Chris Messina as Lunyov’s slimy lawyer Dean Ericson, and Nicholas Logan as Lunyov’s lowlife henchman Alexi Ignatyev.
Behind the camera, J Blakeson succeeds as well. The film is snappy and sharp throughout, hooking me in immediately and not letting go until the end credits rolled. It also has a lot to say about the ruthlessness of capitalism and how and why people do what they do to make unbelievable amounts of money.
One of the few things that didn’t work for me in this movie, and it’s a small thing, is that when Marla and Fran decide to take on the Russian mob, they do so on their own, and things seemed a little too easy for them at that point.
But all in all, I CARE A LOT is a satisfying thriller that delivers the goods, while even managing to produce a few laughs along the way.
I may not have cared for any of the characters, but I certainly liked this movie.