Review: 'I Care A Lot' (2021) Dir. J Blakeson
Rosamund Pike and Peter Dinklage play nefarious people with nefarious motives in a story that proves no matter what you do to try and survive, someone will always be stronger than you...
Marla Grayson (Pike) is a con-artist, working her way across Massachusetts and taking advantage of elderly citizens in need of a guardian. Marla works her way into the household and takes the estate for herself.
With the help of lover and assistant Fran (González) and a small inner circle, Marla deceives both the state and those in her care for her own gain. But Marla has found that her next target hides a dark secret as much as her own.
Elderly citizen Jennifer (Wiest) is taken away by Grayson, but she has a personal tie to mafia boss Roman Lunyov (Dinklage). With Grayson standing between Jennifer and Roman and his crimes, the danger of the profession soon catches up with both her and Fran...
Rosamund Pike's glamorous and prim Marla Grayson makes it clear form the start that she is just a woman, but if any man threatens, touches or undermines her she will not hesitate to pull of said man's genitals. She's a strong-minded woman out to survive, and to survive she needs money. Under the demure shell of Grayson is a selfish, manipulative con artist making her money from swindling the elderly posing as a care worker. Grayson taps into everything from family trauma, emotion and medical instability to ship them into private residential care and syphon their assets and personal savings for herself and partner Eiza González.
It's as simple as that, and it's not going to get any brighter in finding a character in this darkly humorous tale you can warm to. It's a dog-eat-dog world, and Grayson is a Rottweiler. You see these often sane and capable older generations shipped off against their will under threat of the law and looked upon as being unable to look after themselves and locked away.
Pike is glorious in a role that you love to hate her in. With a tight hairstyle, designer clothing and professional attitude that is hardly matched, she's happy to toss away priceless family heirlooms if it doesn't look good enough to bring in cash at an auction. Her tender, meaningful relationship with González is the only humane trait to her character and Pike proves yet again she excels in strong, unwavering roles where she takes charge in every scene she is in with no regard for anyone or anything but her own inner circle. Her pride and ego are ice cool and Pike has a powerful aura around her without even trying hard to come across as excessive or overly-dramatic.
This is Rosamund Pike's vehicle. Her ability as a powerful and strong female lead lifts the story to be an engrossing and engaging one, all thanks to her core performance.
Screen veteran Dianne Wiest is Pike's latest victim, and it seems she has struck the jackpot when a cache of hidden diamonds is discovered in the family home. But West is the mother of crime boss Peter Dinklage, and things soon go from bad to worst with a circle of dark and dangerous people out to do what the strongest of them do best - survive, by any means necessary. Dinklage sports a dangerous looking beard to accompany his dangerous attitude; slow burning and willing to do anything and remove anyone to get back what is his.
Putting Dinklage and Pike together in such a thrilling journey works because of their talent as actors, and they have a brooding intensity in such roles as seen in their previous dramatic roles. Chris Messina as the criminal lawyer is also casting brilliance, speaking volumes with his menacing but charming delivery hiding behind an otherwise harmless smile. As the film takes off from the outset, it's all down to the cast. They're all dangerous people, but you'll find yourself wanting Pike to get her just desserts as quick as possible.
Director J Blakeson never veers into overtly dark humour; there is humour here, but it never comes up at the expense of the narrative and characters. It's very natural, but it doesn't detract from the suspenseful story playing out. Marc Canham's near hypnotic, nail-biting and often animalistic score works in tandem with what plays out on screen. There is also some also equally sharp cinematography and use of colour and light thanks to Doug Emmett, especially the first time Pike and Dinklage in a situation that conjures up an electric atmosphere.
In just under two hours there's never a real moment you'll not be hooked. Whether it's watching Pike play everyone for a fool, or Dinklage acting to get back what is his, this shines a light on the darker people in society and the lengths they will go in order to, well, simply survive.
Solid performances worthy of acclaim and expert film-making bring this dark, dangerous and slick story to life that looks good and ticks all the right boxes of the genre.
'I Care A Lot' is a co-production between STXfilms, Black Bear Pictures and Crimple Beck