I Care a Lot

Review by Rich Cline | 3.5/5

I Care a Lot
dir-scr J Blakeson
prd Teddy Schwarzman, Ben Stillman, Michael Heimler, J Blakeson
with Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eiza Gonzalez, Dianne Wiest, Chris Messina, Isiah Whitlock Jr, Macon Blair, Alicia Witt, Damian Young, Nicholas Logan, Liz Eng, Celeste Oliva
release US/UK 19.Feb.21
20/UK STX 1h58

dinklage messina witt

Is it streaming?

gonzalez, wiest and pike
With a savage sense of humour, this bracing film highlights a shady industry that thrives on the long-term illness of the elderly, often at the expense of their children. The blackly comical tone keeps it entertaining, even as the script punches some provocative points and makes most of the characters repellant. Everything is rather overwrought, but writer-director J Blakeson keeps the movie slick and watchable. Often viciously so.
A court-appointed guardian, Marla (Pike) boldly faces down people who sue her for preventing them from seeing or overseeing their ill parents. Her latest target is Jennifer (Wiest), a never-married retiree with a huge nest egg. Working with her partner Fran (Gonzalez) and doctor cohort Karen (Witt), Marla has Jennifer remanded into care. But Jennifer has a secret past, and Marla has no idea just how far out of her depth she is here. Then as ruthless gangster Roman (Dinklage) tries to contact Jennifer, he sends his shark-like lawyer Dean (Messina) to take Marla down.
It's shocking that, on the word of one crooked doctor, a judge can declare a person a ward of the state. Watching Marla sweep in and strip Jennifer of her freedom and her assets is horrific. Then Jennifer is literally imprisoned in a care home. Like Ruthless People, this is a comedy in which each character is even nastier than the last one. Everyone may be bluffing about the awful things they'll do, but don't bet on it. The question is whether we're rooting for the wrong people.

Pike is terrific as a smiling backstabber, who has no qualms about selling off a person's life without their consent for her own profit. Yet despite her charisma, she's utterly loathsome. The terrific Wiest makes Jennifer a force of nature even when she's been sedated, and she earns all of the audience's sympathy. Dinklage is lso terrific, layering pathos under his edgy thuggishness. His war with Marla certainly doesn't travel along predictable paths.

There's a faint undercurrent of female empowerment, as Marla refuses to be challenged by a man, although this is undermined as she gleefully destroys women. And even when Marla learns what she's up against, she refuses to back down, which makes several of the plot points feel rather unlikely. The point seems to be that you can't make it in America if you're not willing to kill for success, which isn't a great message. But the final act turns seriously dark, and takes a couple of weighty twists.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 5.Jan.21

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© 2021 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall