Directed by: J Blakeson
Premise: A legal guardian (Rosamund Pike) runs a private firm that consigns the elderly to nursing homes and liquidates their savings and assets. Her newest mark (Dianne Wiest) becomes more than the con-artist can handle.
What Works: I Care A Lot is a black comedy with a wicked sense of humor. Everyone in the film is an appalling person and the filmmakers lean into their despicableness, giving the movie a similar tone as Thank You For Smoking and The Wolf of Wall Street. The scenario of I Care A Lot is terrifying. The scam it envisions, in which the courts and elder care are weaponized to bilk senior citizens, is frighteningly credible and the filmmakers have thought through that aspect of the movie. The film bubbles with energy. The picture possesses a sardonic sense of humor and I Care A Lot moves ahead at a brisk pace with characters continually outmaneuvering each other and raising the stakes. The performances are in touch with the film’s tone and the actors make their sinister characters enjoyable to watch. Rosamund Pike is cast in the lead and Pike does this sort of character especially well. A lot of press has compared Pike’s role in I Care A Lot to her performance in Gone Girl and while there is an overlap between the two roles this is a distinct character and Pike does not come across as though she’s repeating herself. Dianne Wiest plays the con-artist’s latest victim and Wiest does an excellent job manipulating our sympathies as she’s gradually revealed to be more than just a little old lady. Peter Dinklage is cast as her son and Dinklage is a match for Pike, the two of them vicious in very different ways.
What Doesn’t: Rosamund Pike’s character is professionally and romantically partnered with another woman played by Eiza González. This character is extraneous. González does fine with the role but she isn’t given anything to do and she remains nebulous and mostly a passive participant in the action despite being central to the scam. The failure to do anything with González’s character reveals a deeper flaw in I Care A Lot. The movie has a great set up and a wicked tone but the filmmakers don’t really commit to any of it. Pike’s character is vicious and callous but that’s not reflected in her relationship with her partner. The romantic relationship may be intended as a humanizing counterpoint but that’s antithetical to the rest of the movie. The shallowness of I Care A Lot becomes especially evident in the ending. The picture concludes with a jarring act of violence. It’s a callback to the opening but the story isn’t really leading up to this point and the denouement comes across like a tagged on moral comeuppance that is out of character with the rest of the film.
DVD extras: Currently available on Netflix.
Bottom Line: I Care A Lot is an entertaining black comedy with some great performances by its cast. The film’s superficial treatment of its ideas and themes keeps it merely good when it could have been great.
Episode: #843 (March 14, 2021)