Movie Review: I Care a Lot

While yesterday’s Golden Globe awards delivered its share of surprises (Andra Day over Viola Davis or Carrie Mulligan? Really? James Corden a nominee? REALLY?), one win that didn’t surprise many went to Rosamund Pike for her performance in the genre-mashing, dark comedy-thriller, I CARE A LOT. That’s not to say the British actress was the most deserving of the Best Actress in a Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) award. Giving the Golden Globe to Maria Bakalova for her performance in BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM would have been the ballsy thing to do for sure, but I would venture to say that Cristin Milioti deserved to be nominated for her performance in PALM SPRINGS, perhaps even more so than some of the women who did compete in this category.

Pike did win though, and I CARE A LOT, which arrived rather quietly on Netflix on February 19th, is now on everyone’s radar for a possible Oscar nomination or two. In the film, Pike (RADIOACTIVE; BEIRUT; A UNITED KINGDOM; GONE GIRL) plays Marla Grayson, a tough-as-nails, hard vaping grifter who makes a living by convincing judges to grant her guardianship over financially secure seniors whom, she claims, can no longer take care of themselves. With the help of her very capable right-hand woman and lover, Fran (Eiza González, BABY DRIVER), Grayson has built a very profitable business for themselves, legally draining the life savings from these old folks while family members, if there are any, watch helplessly from the sidelines. Marla and Fran seem to have bitten off more than they can chew, though, when they set their sights on Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest, LET THEM ALL TALK; HANNAH AND HER SISTERS; EDWARD SCISSORHANDS), a well-off retiree who has no apparent family. Jennifer, they discover too late, has a connection to crime boss Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage, (AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR; THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI; TV’s GOT) and he’s not about to let Jennifer and her wealth fall into Marla’s clutches without putting up a good fight.

Genre mashups seem to be all the rage these days, perhaps following upon the huge success of Jordan Peele’s horror-comedy-political satire, GET OUT. I CARE A LOT swings for the political satire fences as well, with its late-stage capitalistic take on the intersection that lies between the American health care and justice systems. The sad reality is that Marla, with her no doubt intentionally blunt-cut Ivanka Trump blonde bob, back-zipped sheath dresses and Jimmy Choo high heels, and others like her really do exist in the US, and they exploit this legal but unethical grey area. For the most part, I CARE A LOT works thanks to the performances of Pike, Dinklage and Wiest who all brought their A-game to the project. Where it doesn’t work, though, is the film’s tone, which careens wildly between comedy and neo-noir. It’s okay to have both in one story but writer-director J Blakeson (THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED) struggles to find the right balance between the two and that makes for a slightly frustrating viewing experience. Some viewers may also find the film a tad misogynistic with a fair bit of violence being meted out to the film’s female characters.

The biggest problem with the story, though, is that everyone in this film is nasty, and that makes it hard for the audience to take a side. I must admit that I was in Roman’s camp but that’s only because we know less of what he’s capable of than we do of Marla. While the film’s ending might bring some viewers an iota of satisfaction, to me it doesn’t go far enough in its indictment of the system that it’s supposed to be lampooning. This may explain why audiences are far less enthusiastic about this film than critics are.

I CARE A LOT is streaming now on Netflix. While it’s worth checking out, I doubt it will win any Oscars. The Golden Globe win was a gimme courtesy of 87 out-of-touch movie critics.

Watch the review recorded on Facebook Live on Friday, March 5th, 8:30 am HK time!

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