A crooked legal guardian who drains the savings of her elderly wards meets her match when a woman she tries to swindle turns out to be more than she first appears.
‘I Care A Lot’ is a movie that starts off really well before running out of steam and becoming increasingly far fetched as it approaches its conclusion. The film centres on Marla, an unscrupulous con woman who runs an underhand business where she takes advantage of elderly people to put them in care homes and strip them off their assets. For the first hour it’s a sharp, smartly written and slightly satirical drama about people exploiting the system for financial gain, with the film using the premise to explore how a system set up to protect elderly people is being manipulated to hurt them. From this point onwards the movie starts to become more of a thriller with twists and turns that become more preposterous, however overall this is an entertaining ride.
Marla is played by Rosamund Pike who really excels in roles like this (see ‘Gone Girl’), and she makes for a character that is easy to hate but compelling to follow. She is motivated almost entirely by money, and alongside her partner (in business and in life) Fran (Eiza Gonzalez), they manipulate the legal system to grant them guardianship over older people under the pretence that they are no longer able to look after themselves. It’s a truly abhorrent business and one of the issues I had with ‘I Care A Lot’ was that it overestimated the goodwill we have towards Marla and Fran, essentially pivoting to position them as the victims when they get in over their heads with an elder who proves more than a match for them. It’s not that bad people can’t be compelling characters, and Marla is certainly compelling with Pike putting in a fine performance, but as the movie progresses, the writers start to lose sight of the type of person they presented to us at the beginning.
The elder that catches the protagonists out is Jennifer Peterson, played by the great Dianne Wiest, a woman who appears to live alone with no family to speak off, and a healthy estate on account of a lengthy career in finance. She appears to be the ideal candidate for Marla and Fran’s schemes, that is until they discover that she does have a son (Peter Dinklage) who just happens to be a gangster, and he’s not prepared to accept his mother being treated in this way. The film is well made, with the director using a synth score to compliment montages showing Marla and Fran conduct their schemes, with the slickness of their operations contrasting with the depravity of these actions.
The initial promise of a richer exploration of this premise is gradually pushed to the side in favour of more traditional thriller fare, but I did find ‘I Care A Lot’ to be an entertaining thriller with much to enjoy, and it’s a good movie to spend a couple of hours with.
Directed By: J Blakeson
Starring: Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eiza Gonzalez, Dianne Wiest, Damian Young, Alicia Witt, Chris Messina, Isiah Whitlock Jr. and Macon Blair