What more can be said about America and its recent history than has already been spoken? We all know, since around January 20th, 2017, much has changed with the first months of 2021 being amongst the scariest, craziest and unfathomable we have seen for a generation. Its deep-seated political issues have been around for decades, however, but a big, booming light has been shone on its justice system in recent months, whether economic loopholes, conservatorship exploitation, and, in J. Blakeson’s thrilling new film, the powers given to third parties.
Rosamund Pike plays Marla Grayson, an entrepreneur with a penchant for the seedy as well as having a ruthless streak that only a mother could love. But oh boy is she good at it. Smart, sadistic but totally driven, she has found a sweet spot in some judiciary loopholes that she is exploiting to the max, all perfectly legal: courts can now appoint legal guardians for those older residents who no longer have control over their lives, or least that’s what the ruse is.
Marla uses her position with doctors to have them produce a phony diagnosis for those on the wealthier side, the courts step in, appoint her guardian, put said patient in a care home that’s more prison sentence than golden years residence, and Marla can legally utilise their assets – financial and otherwise – to pay her extortionate fees and live a life of luxury. One such “mark”, Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest) might be her crowning glory, enough to retire on, but there may be more to Jennifer than meets the eye.
We won’t say any more than that – the twists may be common knowledge but for the sake of spoilers, we won’t go any further – but suffice to say that J. Blakeson’s dark, acerbic, prickly comedy-thriller is a mix of genres and narratives that bubble along nicely in his own unique pot of ideas. What begins as a shocking and angry satirical look at the American justice system and political and economical landscapes pre-COVID morphs into a hilariously dark take on the revenge thriller before shifting once more into something that borders on the horror that leads into its bellowing crescendo.
A hybrid of opposing ideas may have produced something of a mess under another filmmaker’s guidance, but Blakeson’s delicacy in balancing so many spinning plates is sublime and with his biting pokes at the US, Trump, the rich, and the poor, it’s a cavalcade of brilliance. It loses some of its momentum when shifts into the cliched thriller motifs through its second act occur as Peter Dinklage enters the fray, but doesn’t buckle and comes out the other side somewhat stronger.
Blakeson’s job is made so much easier with the casting of Pike in the lead role, who revels in dipping her toes back into the darker echelons of an actor’s dream, providing something of a strange companion piece to her dynamite – and now, meme-worthy – portrayal of Amy in David Fincher’s spectacular Gone Girl. Oozing icy, sharp disdain, and power, she is magnificent throughout, drawing us into her seemingly impenetrable web of deceit and profit. We do recoil in anger and frustration as to how something like this can happen, and the evil behind it, but such is Pike’s magnetism that we can’t help but peek behind the curtains. Unique in its inception, near perfection in its execution, I Care A Lot is spellbinding yet exasperating, furious yet exciting. It’s one of the year’s most outrageous and best.
comedy, crime | USA, 2021 | 15 | 19th February 2021 (UK) | Amazon Prime | Dir. J Blakeson | Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eiza González, Dianne West, Chris Messina, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Macon Blair