I Care A Lot: Movie Review
Director: J Blakeson
Starring: Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eiza González, Diane Wiest
Available to stream on Amazon Prime now
I Care A Lot
Marla Grayson, on the face of it, is everything I love and hate. Incredible hair, killer dress sense, scheming, smart, Rosamund Pike. She’s also cold, brutal, calculating to the point of concern, duplicitous, greedy, capitalist, and Eiza Gonzalez’s girlfriend (it should have been me). Amazon Prime’s I Care A Lot jumped to the top of my watch-list as soon as I heard about it. Clever and clean, J Blakeson’s new film takes an inherently unlovable but annoyingly likeable protagonist and pits her against a cast full of equally morally bankrupt individuals. You just can’t bring yourself to hate them.
Marla Grayson knows her game. Running a racket conservatorship and guardianship scheme that see her paying off whoever she needs to so that she admit vulnerable elderly people into homes and milk their finances for all they are worth, it seems only a matter of time until Marla gets her much deserved comeuppance. But do we want her to?
Immediately after watching I Care A Lot, I liked the film. The more I sit with it, I am more inclined to relegate it to “good not great”. You know when someone has something in their teeth? And you can’t help but fixate on it until you eventually let them know (because you aren’t an ass who would let them go their whole day like that, c’mon, be kind)? That’s how it felt. Once you see certain things, remember certain parts, the exasperation creeps in a little and while you’re still left with an undeniably decent film. It just feels a little less slick.
Frustratingly, part of you roots for Marla. However the other (more appropriate) part of you knows that what she is doing is completely unethical and takes advantage of the vulnerable within society for her own gain. Blakeson knows you’ll face this dilemma too, and leans into it nice and heavy. It’s phoney “empowerment” at a very real cost.
Abby Monteil puts it more eloquently that I can in her recent article regarding the notion of white feminism in Hollywood. I await the comments accusing me of being “the Feminist With No Sense Of Humour Who Ruins Everything And Can’t Let Anything Be” – but I’m not sorry. I enjoyed I Care A Lot, and I would happily watch it again. It’s a good film. I also feel that I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I didn’t address aspects that I believe to be pertinent to its construction and reception. Anyway, back to Ruining Everything.
In Good Company
The performances and casting throughout I Care A Lot are spot on. No-one plays a stone-cold blonde the way Rosamund Pike does – it feels like Marla Grayson was written for her. Peter Dinklage, too, puts in a great performance (2010 skinny scarf and fringe aside…), and Eiza Gonzalez is perfect from her grounded passion to her wardrobe and hair. (Fran, if you read this I’m free on Thursday night and would like to hang out please respond to this and then hang out with me on Thursday night when I’m free). Diane Wiest, too, acts her part perfectly, and doles out laughs where you don’t expect them. I Care A Lot is a darkly comedic film. One-liners and quips from West, Pike, and Dinklage tread the line between lightening the mood and presenting me with a totally aspirational attitude to life’s complications. I want that unbothered power.
A Lioness in Pastel Pantsuits
Fran and Marla’s relationship is interesting. Fran acts as something of a foil to Marla, and through her we are afforded glimpses into the softer side of the lioness that is Marla Grayson. It’s also refreshing to see a queer relationship between two women that aren’t in period costume or cheating on a man. The relationship between Marla and Fran isn’t exploitative, gratuitous, or male-gazed. They just love each other, and I love them. However (here she goes again), it asks us to look into the notion of queer-coded villains and assess their prevalence and purpose. A tough one, really, when my sexuality is largely based around attractive women who I know could beat me up. Another article for another time, perhaps.
To Care or Not To Care
Aesthetically speaking, I Care A Lot is a joy. Clean and fresh, crisp and slick – the whole films feels light and modern until it doesn’t. I’ve never seen a shady lot surrounded by SUVs look so beautiful. Every set and cinematography choice is deliberate and considered and cultivates an atmosphere of corporate and social difference that you register without even realising. It’s gorgeous stuff.
I Care A Lot is a good film. It’s enjoyable, it’s engaging, it’s entertaining, and it’s nice to look at with a good score. It gives you much to think on. The more you think, though, the more you pull and pick and some parts come loose. That’s okay, though, because even a couple of buttons down, you’re still left with a killer pantsuit.
Moral ambiguity, vagueness, and grey fog is what makes films like I Care A Lot so enjoyable. We aren’t meant to actually like these people, they represent very distinct archetypes that are hell bent on keeping the rich rich at any cost and satirise the current economic climate for a laugh that if you look too deep into might actually become a cry. My next weekend is most likely going to consist of a Gone Girl and I Care A Lot double bill, and if you ask me, that is a weekend well spent.
I Care A Lot is streaming on Amazon Prime now.
Support the Valks
Any and all commission paid to the Valks through affiliate schemes or patronage goes back into the site. It helps with the hosting costs and the running costs. Anything you purchase through our links does earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. The continued support of our wonderful community is what keeps us going, so thank you again and again!
If you would like to support the site you can join our Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/thevalkyries
If you don’t want to join up but want to support us, you can donate via Kofi here: https://ko-fi.com/I2I6FUC7