A Netflix Film Review: I Care A Lot🎥
Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage square off in this Netflix's biting, darkly funny film.
Booked with towering stilettos and a guillotine-blade bob, Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike) strolls through "I Care a Lot" with the icy confidence of inveterate fraud. Her racket is guardianship: to identify powerless retirees, to have them falsely declared mentally incompetent, and to have themselves appointed their legal guardian.
A network of enablers—including an unscrupulous doctor and an oblivious judge—grease the grift as Marla and her personal and business partner (Eiza González) have done to Jennifer (Dianne Wiest). With a healthy nest egg and no apparent relatives, Jennifer is a "cherry"; and one chilling, all-too-believable sequence later, she was secured in an assisted-living facility and her considerable assets were liquidated. Marla, however, is about to discover that she's messed up with the wrong old lady.
An unexpectedly gripping thriller between comedy and horror, "I Care a Lot" is cleverly written (by the director, J Blakeson) and beautifully cast. Marla is an almost cartoonish sociopath, and Pike leans back into her villainy with unwavering bravado. And Wiest's sly perfection: watch as Jennifer, drugged and smirking, spit an unbreakable curse on her tormentor before putting her in a headlock. But it's the introduction of an inscrutable Russian gangster (Peter Dinklage, all cool intelligence and a wounded puppy's eyes) that gives Marla a worthy foil and the plot a reason for climaxing.
It's a perfect role for Dinklage and one that mines his charisma and gravitas. Roman manages to be even more enigmatic than his anti-hero "Thrones" Tyrion Lannister, but Dinklage also gives him a vulnerability that can't help but emerge from a steely facade.
Marla is also putting up a front, although hers is almost impenetrable. In Pike's best performance since the "Gone Girl" in 2014, she rules the proceedings as a defective character who is flawless when it comes to gaming the system. And woe be to anyone who gets in her way: when Roman sends a smarmy lawyer (Chris Messina) to shake her, he gets a big dose of her righteous (at least in her mind) anger: in one of the cooler visuals of the film, the smoke comes out of Marla's nose – the product of her steaming habit – and she looks like a cartoon bull ready to gore an underestimating foe.
Blakeson's character development is a small issue; Marla and Roman are the most fleshed-out people, and you only get a tease of their origins. (The fact that they are mysteries adds to each of their legends, however.) The director's biting satire and well-paced plot are on the point, however, and "I Care a Lot" provides an immersive, sometimes quirky narrative with a boffo ending in which you'll definitely dig a lot.
However, with an ice-pick dialog and a gleefully ironic title, "I Care a Lot" is a slick, savage caper rooted in a real-world scam (recounted as an episode of the Netflix series "Dirty Money"). An overlong, somewhat mushy middle section made me fear that Blakeson was losing his nerve. Oh how I was wrong about that.