A court-appointed legal guardian defrauds her older clients and traps them under her care. But her latest mark comes with some unexpected baggage.
When it comes to Rosamund Pike, it doesn't really matter the type of film she's doing, I'm always in. Her constantly dedicated, incredible performances strongly grasp me to the screen every single time, so I expected I Care a Lot to follow the same path. From the most recent Radioactive to one of her most famous roles in Gone Girl, passing through numerous other memorable displays, Pike just can't deliver a bad interpretation. Being this my first viewing of a J Blakeson's movie, and with Netflix offering their pristine production value, I must state that I'm surprised with how much I thoroughly enjoyed this film. Let me begin with what I think really makes this movie so attractive: its screenplay.
Pike and co. all deliver outstanding performances, and I'll get to those, but Blakeson's script is both crazy and smart. If the premise isn't clear enough, capitalism is a significant theme throughout the entire runtime. From the rich-poor depressing yet realistic comparisons to the ruthless competition between the so-called sharks of this economic system, I Care a Lot provides excellent parallelism to the real world. The not-that-implicit messages regarding this topic are mostly delivered by Marla Grayson, a protagonist who doesn't shy away from assuming her lioness status.
Possessing cunning knowledge of both the pros and cons of capitalism and its borderline legal cheats, the viewer accompanies Marla through her exceptionally captivating process of acquiring and profiting from a new target, just like hundreds of companies and CEOs around the world do without most people realizing it. When Marla finds a worthy competitor, Blakeson risks its grounded story, replacing it with an absolutely lunatic second half, characterized by absurd, out-of-this-world character and plot decisions, which would be a major issue if its purpose wasn't precisely to show the ridiculous - and criminal - ambition of top-tier capitalists.
I can't deny it gets a tad too mad and irrational for my taste, but having in mind the context and Blakeson's goal, I consider it a mostly successful play. Plus, the entertainment value doesn't drop, much on the contrary, it skyrockets to a point where I welcome some of its craziness. The third act boasts tremendous tension and suspense, slightly unexpected developments, and a shocking yet utterly perfect ending that will make most viewers say "karma is a b*tch, right?" It's a quite enlightening story about the real-life guardians who exploit their wards. Blakeson brilliantly educates the audience on the power of bureaucracy, the moral compromises overly ambitious people must make, and how to profit for some means lack of freedom for others.
Marc Canham's score is the technical standout, delivering an electronic soundtrack that I usually don't appreciate that much, but it played the right type of tracks at the perfect moments. From the score alone, the viewer is able to understand the importance of certain scenes, and that's a massive achievement. Doug Emmett's cinematography also allows for a few gorgeous shots with exquisite lighting, but I need to move on to the fantastic performances from the cast. I already approached Pike's performance, and at the time of this review, she's already received a Golden Globe nomination, so I don't need to further compliment her display.
However, I can't let the rest of the cast go away without mentions. Peter Dinklage (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Avengers: Infinity War) offers one of my favorite performances from his film career with his slightly over-the-top yet intriguing interpretation of a dangerous gangster. Eiza González (Bloodshot, Hobbs & Shaw, Alita: Battle Angel) is also pretty good as Fran, Marla's lover, and her chemistry with Pike is on-point. Their sparse yet impactful emotional moments are quite compelling. Dianne Wiest is a total badass as Jennifer Peterson, a not-that-innocent old lady, and finally, a shoutout to Chris Messina (Birds of Prey), who hands his charm as an attention-grabbing lawyer.
I Care a Lot is one of the best Netflix movies this year has offered so far. Boasting an intriguing premise, J Blakeson brilliantly expands his idea through an enlightening screenplay that tackles the sometimes cunning guardian-ward relationship in real-life. Packed with clever analogies to real-life capitalism, Blakeson transmits impactful messages about the power of authority, excessive ambition, and the moral compromises one makes to gain wealth and success at the cost of other people's freedom. Rosamund Pike impeccably leads a film that starts as a realistic take on the process of acquiring and profiting from a new "victim" and then evolves into an absolutely crazy second half of absurd outcomes. This ridiculous development does get a bit too irrational, but its purposeful objective of demonstrating capitalists' immorally ruthless behavior regarding competition is undoubtedly accomplished. Outstanding performances across the board and a surprisingly effective electronic score only make this movie better. I couldn't recommend it more.
Black Bear Pictures, Crimple Beck, STX Entertainment, STX Films by J Blakeson.
Stars: Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eiza González, Dianne Wiest.
Genres: Comedy, Crime, Thriller
Keywords: dark comedy guardian scam artist scammer
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