"I Care a Lot" stars Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eiza González, Chris Messina, and Dianne Wiest. Released on Netflix on February 19, 2021, the film is about a con woman who meets her match in the form of a powerful mob boss.
The film was written and directed by J Blakeson, who also directed "The Disappearance of Alice Creed" and "The 5th Wave". Remember that feeling you get when you're at the top of your game, and then all of a sudden, karma comes along and bites you in the butt? This is that feeling. The next film I'll be talking about today showcases that crime doesn't always pay. Just ask Rosamund Pike, who received a Golden Globe nomination for her performance. Since I'm on a roll watching as many nominated films as possible, I guess one nomination is good enough for me to check the movie out. The film also marks the return of J Blakeson, who hasn't directed a feature film in four years after his sophomore debut, "The 5th Wave". Do you guys remember that piece of sci-fi filmmaking? Yeah, I don't either. "I Care a Lot" made its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival back in September, and in terms of reception, it became a massive improvement over Blakeson's previous film. You got to appreciate the guy for picking himself back up and making a stellar comeback. It had then made its way to Netflix in the United States and Amazon Prime Video in some international regions last weekend. Since I live in the U.S., I will be using my trustworthy Netflix to review the film. Was it wicked enough for me to recommend to the other Netflix subscribers? Let's find out.
The story follows Marla Grayson (Pike), a persuasive con woman who spends her life posing as the guardian for older people and selling their homes and assets right from under their noses. Her next target is Jennifer Peterson (Wiest), a woman who is starting her retirement. Grayson successfully convinces the judge to appoint herself as Jennifer's guardian and moves her into an assisted living facility. What seems to be another easy job turns out to be more than what Grayson has bargained for. It turns out that Jennifer is the mother of a Russian mob boss named Roman Lunyov (Dinklage), who will stop at nothing to keep her safe from harm. Grayson will have to use her wits and persuasive charm to get out of this predicament alive. It's pretty challenging to make a film that involves a person doing awful things to innocent people, especially when that person is the main character. The filmmakers want to have a movie that's enticing for their audience, but they also have to make sure that the characters are at least likable enough to make the enticement of its concept more convincing. J Blakeson was successful in making a twisty thriller that's unapologetically wicked and stylistically appealing. However, its style wasn't persuasive enough for me to overlook its flawed narrative. I thought some moments were decently-handled by Blakeson in terms of the cinematography and the film's surprises, but its screenplay missed the mark in providing a strong connection with its themes. Part of that is due to the characters themselves, especially Marla Grayson. One of the main issues I have with certain movies is that they have main characters who are downright despicable without any hint of likability or development. I hate to say that Grayson happened to be one of those characters. Aside from caring about her girlfriend Fran (played by González), I didn't see any part of her that made me feel sympathetic for her. Because of this, the film lost its charm more quickly than usual. If you can't make a con woman likable, then there's no point in me, or some of its viewers, worrying about what will happen to her. Not even the ending was enough to make me feel sorry for that disgusting excuse for a guardian. The only thing that prevented me from punching her in the face was the actress who brought her to life: Rosamund Pike. She managed to save the film from being an unbearable mess by delivering a performance that's as deliciously cunning and suitably maniacal as Marla herself. She's one of the only bright spots of the movie by far. Peter Dinklage and Dianne Wiest also delivered some worthy performances as Roman Lunyov and Jennifer Peterson, respectively. Dinklage certainly has the range necessary to portray a character who screams, "Don't mess with me". It makes me wonder why he isn't the main star of the show. Oh, that's right, because the film couldn't figure out which character is worth rooting for.
Overall, "I Care a Lot" is visually attractive, but its narrative wasn't caring enough to provide the special treatment I deserve. While a small improvement over Blakeson's previous film five years ago, the film is a middle-of-the-road thriller with potential. However, that potential was overshadowed by its average script and an intolerable main character. The only qualities that made it watchable were its slick style and the cast's performances, most notably Rosamund Pike. Everything else? Eh, not really. If you like watching twisty thrillers and Rosamund Pike in general, you might get some enjoyment out of this nasty film.