FILM REVIEW: I Care A Lot
Words by Finnian Gregor
In the height of ongoing lockdowns, in the crux of our lethargy, it’s only natural for us to feel overwhelmed by the just-as-never-ending content published on streaming services. It’s near impossible to keep tabs on how many damn services (and free trials) even exist, but it’s very important to acknowledge how helpful they can be for our health!
This is why I’ve decided to review and recommend one particular film which might help carry your sorrows into the ether. It is a reminder of what out there exists that is worse than our lockdown lethargy – and boy, is it one wicked flick.
“I could just as easily kill you if this thing continues any longer”
I Care a Lot is a 2020 black-as-coal comedy which makes you consider what you really do and don’t care about as a global citizen.
As there’s so much to get into about what this film offers, I’ll start small with its mountain narrative. Rosamund Pike’s Marla Grayson helms the ship in her highly exploitative pursuits as a court-appointed legal guardian to supposedly vulnerable elders, of whom she conquers their livelihoods in order to secretly cash in on their assets. Writer-director Jonathan Blakeson twists and bends Marla’s odyssey by entangling her with powerful gangsters, headed by Peter Dinklage at the top of his game, and this direction makes the narrative greatly entertaining.
To describe the story arc in simpler terms, the first act of the film can be likened to a white Jackie Brown. Marla grasps a cunning deviousness powerful enough to convince both us and those around her of her likeability. Within the first 10 minutes we’re rooting for her misdemeanours, enticed by the mystery of what will unfold next based on her decisions.
The movie’s second half transforms into a more Kill Bill-style revenge thriller in a tonal shift that may skewer the concentration of some, but hopefully enlightens most. Regardless, the overall narrative reflects a hefty development for a hefty protagonist, and thanks to deft editing and screenwriting, this heft becomes palpable for the more easy-going viewers.
Thematically the movie tackles the frostiness required for exploitation and nihilism, especially in regards to the influence exerted by people in power over vulnerable groups. Blakeson touches on the COVID zeitgeist in his concentration on the philosophical concept of death, as well as the literal acts of it, in a way that wasn’t disrespectful to today’s constantly publicised tragedies. Various moments of the film, through effective comedy and commentary, pointed to a mature acceptance of the inevitable conclusion of the human condition which taints us all. The quote:
“Do you remember how scary it was in 1807? No, me neither, because I wasn’t alive yet. I’ll feel the same thing when I’m dead – not even nothing. Why be scared of that?”
serves as part of the film’s thesis, encouraging the stillness of looking at the mere mortal process which, although universal, terrifies so many. Blakeson flexes his criticism over corporate capitalism in signifying the inhumanity necessary for achieving its greatest heights. It is entirely corrosive to humanity and vulnerability, especially the elderly who are often comparative to youth in their presumed innocence and purity.
Political themes are easily identifiable in the film, with Marla’s actual profession of guardianship over individuals akin to the issue of conservatorships seen only too-often in the media as of late. As well as her reliance for womanhood to somewhat rationalise her sociopathic tendencies. Feminism is outlawed in this instance in an entirely new way that maximises its legitimacy as a political ideology. The patriarchal construct of the film – Marla’s ascendancy through a highly male-dominated hierarchy – is not treated as a barrier in her misdemeanours, necessarily, as essentially all the characters are pitiful players. The prism Blakeson views his characters within is level-headed enough to critique all ends of the feminism-to-chauvinism spectrum. To make viewers care about nobody and therefore, most importantly, everybody.
Viewers will surely bask in Rosamund Pike’s delightful and visceral malice and mystique. In a role which she deservedly snatched the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy, Pike delivers, delivers, and delivers. This win was especially noteworthy considering the fierce competition she faced with breakthrough sharpshooter Maria Bakalova in Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm. Although Pike doesn’t necessarily carry the film – as it does stand on its own – her triumph is undeniable.
She deepens her grip over the femme fatale caricature she’s penetrated as Gone Girl’s Amy Dunne, and the aptly titled Miranda Frost Bond Girl from Die Another Day, whilst also honing it into something sharper and more complex. The connections between this and her stellar Gone Girl enactment are clear – especially via both film’s monologues and devoted devilishness – but Pike knows what she was doing here despite this. Not only does she uplift LGBTQ+ representation in this film, but also female anti-heroism – both of which are neither commonly observed female character representations in popular cinematic culture. It’s another role that sees Pike cement herself as an exquisite artist who movie-goers most certainly should care a lot about.
The ensemble cast is also seamlessly sensational. Dianne Wiest is riotous within her first breath, relative newcomer Eiza Gonzalez shines in both a teasing and tearful performance, and Chris Messina sparkles sexily in his brief bravado. Peter Dinklage, as per usual, outdoes himself, attaching another post-Game of Thrones performance to his versatile filmography. This entourage is able to showcase Pike’s excellence while servicing their own individual moments.
Something I love about powerful movies is the fact they consistently comment on perception – how we perceive one another, and the importance of it all. As Jonathan Blakeson projects a rich story about reputation, lust and ego, we watchers are able to utilise our independent thinking in order to scrutinise the host of ideas and issues broached by the filmmaker. This is particularly useful as it demonstrates his confidence of our own intellect as well as his own, and therefore his characters. I Care A Lot equates to the most scrumptious storytelling.
I Care A Lot is streaming exclusively on Amazon Prime Video