Author Topic: I CARE A LOT - a study in fairly loathsome people  (Read 76 times)

Offline perc2100

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I CARE A LOT - a study in fairly loathsome people
« on: February 22, 2021, 11:08:55 AM »
As a viewer, what do you do when you’re 30 minutes into an almost-2 hour film and you realize there are likely no characters to “root” for?  Do you hope another character comes out that you can identify with; do you hope for a 3rd act twist that gives you relief?  Plenty of films delve in dark subjects and shady characters: 2020 gave us the brilliant Adam Sandler dark comedy/thriller HIDDEN GEMS that centered around a degenerate gambler, but even that film had a co-star that had a good heart.  Some films show us problematic characters that have made bad decisions but are otherwise generally good people (just off the top of my head, Bruce Willis’ boxer in PULP FICTION comes to mind).

I CARE A LOT sets us up immediately for a story in a dark place.  During the opening credits we get star Rosamund Pike telling us via VoiceOver that there are two types of people in this world - those who take, and the taken: the lion or the sheep, and she is no sheep.  Pike plays Marla, a professional legal guardian who ostensibly exists to protect infirm elderly: folks who lose mental capacity and need constant care in an assisted living home while retaining all control over the patient’s financial assets.  If an elderly fella gets dementia and can’t take care of themselves, their doctor and apply for a court order to appoint a guardian to step in and act as a custodian for the patient.

Of course, I CARE A LOT shows us the dark side to this procedure: what if the legal custodian is really out to get rich off of the elderly by working the system against the patients?  And what if the assisted living, and the patients’ doctors are all in on it, enriching themselves with the scam?  That’s who Marla is: a lion who greases the palms of doctors and assisted care managers in order to find wealthy elderly who are juuuust close enough to be deemed “dementia” so she can take control of assets.

Immediately, before Marla even appears on screen, viewers already know she’s one of the lowest of the low as a predator.  But what if her prey she thought was a lowly, rich lamb is actually connected to an incredibly savage pack of vicious lions?

That’s the basic premise, and it’s set up right around the 31 minute mark of this pitch-black comedy that runs at a tight pace and is maybe as high-tension to watch as the aforementioned HIDDEN GEMS.  At the halfway point, when we realize Marla’s new mark Jennifer Peterson (the always brilliant Dianne Wiest) who has a connection to a possible Russian mafia/drug dealing boss, Roman (Peter Dinklage): as well as several other things that Marla didn’t know about until after she set custody (and her grift) into motion.

I knew nothing about this film when I sat down to watch it, and likewise I won’t ‘spoil’ any other plot points.  I’m a fan of this cast, and they don’t disappoint here.  Writer/Director J Blakeson delivers a thriller w/dark comedy that will keep you guessing where everything’s headed.  His direction is solid and not overly flashy, though feels like it does have a nice sense of style relative to the lives of the main characters.  Rosamund Pike has seemingly made a career of playing strong and stubborn women and she’s at pique characterization here, and Dinklage is as awesome as you want him to be.  All the actors are on top of their game here: Chris Messina as a shady mob lawyer trying to deal (and then threaten) Marla, Eiza Gonzalez as Marla’s partner Fran (business & love, who’s the closest this film comes to an audience avatar who is kind of the most ‘innocent’ in this affair, albeit still complicit), and all the other characters-we’re-kinda-rooting-against in the film.

I suppose by Act 3 the audience is sitting back and enjoying the gleefully sinful story & character: or maybe you’re rooting for them all to get the comeuppance - literally, all of them.  The lead actors are all good enough here that you may find yourself rooting for one side or the other only to remember “oh yeah: awful person, there.” 
Eventually the film falls into the “main character withstands more than normal, perhaps even slightly super-powered” trope.  When things unravel and get massively dangerous for Marla and Fran she exhibits prowess and inhibition to pain & danger that doesn’t quite feel organic.  Pike plays the steely BAMF well at least, so I suspect that won’t be a problem for everyone: and it’s just a minor problem for me.  At one point I also found myself wondering why Marla, highly respected in her profession with a good relationship w/judges and law enforcement, didn’t try to work more within the system to get out of trouble.  I suppose that wouldn’t have made for such a thrilling narrative.

And the film is thrilling: and entertaining.  As morally corrupt as the characters and situations are in I CARE A LOT, you’re still likely going to be enraptured and caught up in their story.  And Blakeson crafts his narrative as such that even going into the final 20 minutes you’re likely not 100% sure of how this film will end.  Anytime I find myself less than 15 minutes left in a story and I don’t know where it’s headed is the sign of a good movie. 

I CARE A LOT is streaming on Netflix

Offline darkron9

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Re: I CARE A LOT - a study in fairly loathsome people
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2021, 12:22:59 PM »
Excellent review.

I almost feel that I don't have to watch I CARE A LOT.  You have written a detailed summary without giving too much of the plot. The subject matter is close to me as I am taking care of my elderly mother who has the symptoms of dementia.  I feel inclined to watch just to see how the character Roman (Peter Dinklage) is portrayed.  I did enjoy his character in GAME OF THRONES, and kinda ok in the movie, PIXELS.




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Re: I CARE A LOT - a study in fairly loathsome people
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Offline TardisMom

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Re: I CARE A LOT - a study in fairly loathsome people
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2021, 12:32:52 PM »
Great review!  We really enjoyed this one, Rosamund Pike and Peter Dinklage and both terrific as are the rest of the cast.  The first 30 minutes or so I was thinking I wouldn't make it through but then when Marla ran into trouble I settled in to enjoy the ride.  A fun watch for sure!

Offline perc2100

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Re: I CARE A LOT - a study in fairly loathsome people
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2021, 01:18:55 PM »
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Great review!  We really enjoyed this one, Rosamund Pike and Peter Dinklage and both terrific as are the rest of the cast.  The first 30 minutes or so I was thinking I wouldn't make it through but then when Marla ran into trouble I settled in to enjoy the ride.  A fun watch for sure!
Yeah at that point I realized, "so, no characters in this film that I'll be rooting for as 'good guys.  Huh."  :P
For some folks, that will be the end of their engagement (such as my wife), but to me that makes it all the more intriguing!  I sort of went into the thought process of "so am I rooting _against_ these characters, for some unforeseen character to bust em all, or is something different going to happen here" and that type of thing always screams fun for me.

This feels like it could thematically be a nice double feature w/PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN (two very different films but w/the broad theme of "strong female who lives in a perpetual 'gray' area where she's always scheming"), just as NOMADLAND & INTO THE WILD could broadly be paired together.