Have you ever watched a dark comedy thriller where a lesbian couple plays a game of cat-and-mouse with the Russian mafia? Me neither, that is until I watched “I Care A Lot”.
The movie is set around Rosamund Pike’s character, the ruthless Marla Grayson, who along with her business and love partner Fran, created a business that involves taking advantage of elderly people, especially wealthy retirees, for profit. That’s why when Marla received a call from Sam Rice, the manager of the Berkshire Oaks Senior Living Facility, and was made aware of her unethical occupation that one of her clients died, she remarked, “I thought he’d last us at least another five years.” The lack of remorse was present when Marla threw away the headshot of her client, previously pinned in her wall gallery of her victims located in her office.
The lost mini stream of her hefty income results in her pristine operation to kick off. It begins with a consultation with Dr. Amos, who picks one of her patients, Jennifer Peterson to become Marla’s new client. According to the physician, Jennifer was a “cherry”, an elder with a fat bank account and no records of the family, a prime candidate for exploitation that was to come soon.
In a montage, Marla convinced the judge that Jennifer was unable to take care of themselves because her physician falsely accused her patient of showing symptoms of the beginning stage of dementia. Soon enough, Marla was granted the consent and documents to be the legal guardian of Jennifer. Strutting with power and confidence in her yellow monochromatic suit, Marla whisks away the confused Jennifer to the Berkshire Oaks Senior Living facility, where she will stay helplessly as the shady lesbian couple liquidates her assets.
Ideally, Marla and Fran would milk Jessica until her death, that is until it is discovered that their wealthy retiree has ties with the Russian mafia, led by Peter Dinklage’s character, Roman Lunyov. Without giving too much away, everyone encounters violent and humiliating blows over an elder woman, who wasn’t as sweet and innocent as she appeared before getting trapped in the senior living facility.
The movie overall was engaging and kept me on the edge through the twists and turns that I didn’t see coming despite the ending is unsatisfactory. In fact, Marla justifies her profession and view of elder people as transactions as a way to become rich, “Well, to make it in this country, you need to be brave. And stupid and ruthless and focused. Because playing fair, being scared, that gets you nowhere. That gets you beat.” Hearing this made the movie more chilling because it explores the lives of people who live with low morale that will abuse the system (and people) to achieve a better lifestyle. It also opens the conversation of guardianship abuse particularly in elders, an age group that some of the younger generations blatantly disrespect or forget about.
Director Jonathan Blakeson’s decision in casting Rosamund Pike as Marla helped the filmland its rightful spot as a psychological thriller; this may be in part because of Pike’s role in “Gone Girl” (2014), another thriller that was adapted from a novel of the same title. Pike’s ability to play yet again as a vicious and cunning character is something that I respect because not every actor can do so.
However, the main criticism I have about this movie is the decision to soften Roman, the leader of the Russian mafia instead of the ruthless characteristics that a leader of a criminal organization should have. If we are being honest here, Marla qualifies as a crime lord more than the boss himself. The representation of the mafia in “I Care A Lot” as opposed to the traditional mafia movies makes the particular scenes with the criminal group a bit cringe.
“I Care A Lot” is rooted in exploring the lives of people with low morals who would go to the dark side to achieve their “American Dream”. So if you were expecting this movie to be about a good-story female character with a heart of gold, this movie isn’t for you. However, for those interested, the movie is currently available on Netflix and Amazon Prime in select regions.