February 18th, 2021
MOVIE: I CARE A LOT
STARRING: ROSEAMUND PIKE, EIZA GONZALEZ, PETER DINKLAGE, DIANNE WIEST
DIRECTED BY: J BLAKESON
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
You could sum up director/writer J Blakeson’s I Care a Lot with three words: Ice cold cool. Here is a movie that has all the right ingredients to capture the audience and keep them hooked from start to finish. You take a wild plot, sharply written dialogue, and an ace performance by Roseamund Pike, and what you have is an awesome movie. It might be hard for audiences to separate the character that Pike is playing here from what she did in David Fincher’s Gone Girl, but that’s one of the highlights of I Care a Lot. I wouldn’t be surprised if Blakeson had asked the actress to channel her inner “Amazing Amy” again, playing a character that takes advantage of sweet, elderly people, with little remorse to show for it. It’s hard to the core and delightfully sinister. I Care a Lot is about ruthless people in a ruthless world and it’s fantastic.
The story is about Maria Grayson (Pike), a woman that works as a ward of the state, making her life being a court appointed guardian for those that are unable to take care of themselves. It’s not out of the goodness of her heart, it’s become a lucrative business for her, becoming chummy with doctors, and nursing home directors, so she can pawn them off to a home, while draining their wealth with her court appointed power. It’s fierce and shocking, along with the help of her girlfriend Fran (Eiza Gonzalez) to move things quickly, Maria Grayson is a shark. That is, until one day she decides to swindle the wrong person. She finds a woman named Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest), with no children listed, no husband, and nobody to speak for her. When Maria takes everything and makes her a prisoner of a nursing home, her mysterious crime boss of a son Roman (Peter Dinklage) comes looking, and now Maria’s stream of riches becomes a messy war between shady characters.
When a movie works the way I Care a Lot does it’s because everything hums like a well oiled machine. The cast is spot on, the writing is whip smart, the performances deliver everything you ask for, and the narrative never lags. The comparisons are to some of the best of the best in cinema, Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths comes to mind, the Coen brothers cavalcade of characters in Fargo, or thoroughly entertaining larks such as Knives Out. It’s a narrative that’s rich because nobody is clean. The character of Maria is a borderline sociopath and you might find yourself wondering how you could be rooting for her. Or maybe you will laugh at the chilling anger of Roman, a mobster with low level guys following his every order, because his history of violence exceeds what we’re even told. The bottom line is that Blakeson has written a sure handed movie, with a strong beginning, middle, and end.
One of the bigger factors about I Care a Lot is to dissect the character of Maria and the performance by Pike. There’s an incredible attention to detail in this role. Puffing on her vape pen with a blank stare and blowing the smoke like a fierce dragon. Her wall is lined with elderly people that she “cares for”, names and numbers on a wall, but dollar signs to her. There’s a dog eat dog mentality, a fighting will that could be measured against Carrie Mulligan’s character in Promising Young Woman, only here the clear answer is that Maria Grayson is a bad person, but as the plot thickens it’s obvious that everyone is bad. All of these characteristics are portrayed phenomenally by Pike. Between her work here, what she did in A Private War, and Radioactive, it’s safe to say that Pike is becoming a chameleon in cinema.
I Care a Lot is thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end. The third act is where the narrative stumbles a bit, maybe there’s a bit of a double ending, but Blakeson still has the focus to deliver an ending that leaves you talking. There’s a rich mix of great work by character actors (look for a scene stealing Chris Messina, Eiza Gonzalez’s best work yet, and Wiest proving her mad skills with just a shift of her eye), a constantly shifting, always thrilling narrative, and yes, stellar work by Roseamund Pike. I can’t recommend this movie enough. I hope you take my advice because…I Care a Lot.
I CARE A LOT PREMIERES ON NETFLIX THIS FRIDAY FEBRUARY 19TH
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady