Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
I really wanted to like I Care a Lot. Rosamund Pike is one of my favourite actresses, and I was excited to see her in yet another ‘sexy blonde woman is a baddie in both senses of the word’ flick. Plus, it’s always refreshing to see queer couples on screen. Unfortunately, (in my humble opinion) … it’s just not very good.
The premise is as follows: Marla Grayson (a name which screams pantsuits), a court-appointed legal guardian, scams multiple elderly people into entering care homes against their will, selling all their assets, and getting very rich in the process. Assisted by a dodgy doctor willing to fake memory loss in her patients’ medical records, the manager of a pricy care home, and her girlfriend, Fran, Marla girlbosses her way to a lucrative business, until she chooses the wrong granny to mess with.
Let’s start with the positives. There are some pretty fun action sequences, and Marla’s hair is incredible. That’s most of what makes this a bearable film. I joke, but I’m really struggling to think of things I enjoyed.
Rosamund Pike’s performance is incredible as usual (I’m pretty sure she could read terms and conditions out to me and I’d still find it thrilling), and Peter Dinklage commands each scene he’s in. The premise itself is interesting, and if handled better could have been really impactful. However, one of the key issues with the film is that there is absolutely no one to root for. Even in films where none of the characters are likable, I can usually find someone to align myself with, who I want to succeed. I Care a Lot doesn’t have this – your choices are Marla, who scams vulnerable people into dying alone in care homes, or Peter Dinklage’s character, who is involved with human trafficking. Basically, both of them are horrible, and everyone else is too.
Furthermore, during many scenes of the film it seems as though writer and director Jonathan Blakeson is angling for a feminist narrative. Marla’s sharp outfits, refusal to be cowed by men who threaten her, and ability to girlboss her way out of even the most impossible situations are all things we’re supposed to find inspiring, I imagine. However, all of this is sullied by how morally reprehensible she is. I have no idea if Blakeson’s script was intended as satire, but either way the faux-feminist messaging was tiresome and slightly cringy.
To top it all off, this film is rife with people surviving situations they wouldn’t be able to survive in real life. Of course, we have to suspend our disbelief somewhat when watching a film, but I found myself genuinely trying to work out how the body could withstand some of the things that happen on screen. It’s one of my least favourite tropes, but I suppose it made sense for the ending that Blakeson was going for. Still, the ending was so contrived and unlikely that I don’t really think the effort to keep key characters in the game was worth it.
To wrap this up: there are good ways to make unlikeable female characters interesting. Amy Dunne from Rosamund Pike’s better-known films, Gone Girl, is the one we’re rooting for despite her behaviour. I Care a Lot is the dark and twisted side of she-EO culture manifest in a deeply unlikeable and rather irritating character, and there’s no real payoff that makes up for it.
It’s pretty clear I wouldn’t recommend I Care a Lot, but if the premise draws you in, don’t be disappointed when it isn’t the boss babe movie you were expecting.
– Caitlin Barr
Still via I Care a Lot Trailer // Movieclip Trailers. Director of Photography: J Blakeson.