J Blakeson’s I Care A Lot is a stylish, gripping thriller that is thoroughly entertaining throughout – pitting a conwoman against her toughest mark yet and letting the audience watch as each side continuously one-ups the other.
Rosamund Pike stars as Marla Grayson, a self-confessed lion amongst the sheep who cons her way into becoming the legal guardian of vulnerable isolated elderly people, helping herself to their estates while she cares for them in corrupt facilities. Her perfect scheme runs into trouble when she aims her sights at the wrong target – Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest). It sounds awfully dark, but I Care A Lot is so, so much fun to watch – it is, at its core, a game of cat and mouse; the tone is kept relatively light despite the subject matter, with fun dialogue, stylish direction, and an incredible wardrobe department.
MINOR SPOILERS: What makes I Care A Lot so gripping is partly thanks to the fact that both parties are in the wrong. Jennifer’s dangerous connections to a crime lord (Peter Dinklage) pit two antagonists against each other. You have no one to root for, with both deserving their own comeuppance. There’s something deviously fun watching two bad apples constantly one-upping each other in a game of wits where you are, ultimately, happy if either side wins/loses. END OF SPOILERS.
If you enjoyed Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl, you’re almost guaranteed to love I Care A Lot. She plays much the same fierce female who is not to be scorned, and my goodness does she play these kinds of characters fantastically; demanding attention effortlessly and leading every scene she takes part in.
Chris Messina also stands out as lawyer extraordinaire Dean Ericson. He is charismatic, hilarious, and damn does he look good in a suit. It is unfortunate his character is ultimately under-utilized and forgotten. He enters the movie with real force and bravado only to fade away without much in the way of resolution. A missed opportunity to let his character really shine as brightly as he could have.
If I had the time, I would watch I Care A Lot all over again immediately. It’s an engaging, occasionally over-the-top and theatrical thriller with addictive characters and great, snappy dialogue. Even when I thought the culmination of the movie missed the mark slightly, it subverted my expectations at the last moment and managed to surprise me, much to my delight. I Care A Lot was the most fun I’ve personally had watching a movie during TIFF yet. A brilliant watch, and one I will be excited to see for a second time as soon as it gets a theatrical release.