Paradise Cynic

Lead actor: Rosamund Pike, Diane West.

Director: J. Blackson

I Care a Lot is presented as a dark action comedy. I suppose it all goes one way or the other, but mostly it’s a cynical portrait of the new American dream.

Rosamund Pike (who I know best from Gone Girl) plays Marla Grayson. Marla is a court appointed guardian for elderly clients who need help with their finances.

Marla is an opportunistic con artist who, contrary to the title of the film, doesn’t care at all about the people in her care. Their entire operation is to take their money and their freedom and sever their ties with anyone who might reveal their plan.

We meet her at the moment when she is about to take on a new client, a woman who has been singled out by one of her many henchmen because she has a lot of money and no family. She’s perfectly capable of taking care of herself, but Marla is not deterred by such small things.

Jennifer Peterson (Diane West, whom I loved in Life in the Details) has ended up in Marla’s care and forcibly transferred to a nursing home without her knowledge or consent. She is not allowed to communicate with anyone and if she complains, she is sedated. Marla and her partner Fran (Eiza Gonzalez) are constantly cleaning out their house and selling their belongings.

But Jennifer is not exactly who they think she is. That’s where Peter Dinklage (who I saw in Memory magazine recently) comes in. She may not have a family on paper, but paper lies. She’s a woman with connections. Marla may have overdone it this time, but as usual she refuses to lose.

So here we have a group of bad people doing really bad things, and the public needs to understand which bad people to support. It is a mystery that can only be understood by one thing: exceptional acting.

Rosamund Pike, with the toughest haircut Bob has ever had, dreams of being a lioness, fighting against the men who want to keep her from achieving her gruesome goals. Marla is a terrible person, but Pike is a great actress who uses her talents to give a smart and humorous edge to this otherwise despicable character.

Diane West is fantastic as Jennifer. She’s a victim, but not a typical victim. She doesn’t need Marla, and despite the circumstances, she trusts her son.

And then there’s Peter Dinklage. Sure, I love him in both, but his portrayal of a son facing his mother’s enemy is pretty great. He surrounded himself with a cadre of arrogant soldiers who were unprepared for Marla’s brutality and tenacity.

In the end, I Care a Lot turns out to be very respectable, but not at all edifying. Watching Pike and Dinklage fight is entertaining, but the underlying con is so immensely violent that it’s hard to really enjoy the film.

I Care a Lot is worthwhile for the performances, but be aware that it may strike a nerve if you have an older person in your life. If you have a very, very cynical sense of humor, it can really get to you.

I Care a Lot is available for streaming on Netflix.

Sue enjoys taking care of her adult children, riding her bike, and keeping them on a leash. She is the Editorial Director at Silver Beacon Marketing and an aspiring cat lover.

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