Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike) is a self-proclaimed “lioness”. She makes a living by becoming the legal guardian of elderly wards, and then draining them of their estate and assets. However, when she targets Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest), it quickly becomes clear that she’s gone after the wrong woman. A mob led by Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage) goes after Marla, but she won’t go down without a fight.
In Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage and Dianne Wiest, ‘I Care a Lot’ is led by terrific performances, with Eiza González deserving praise too. Pike, who recently earned a Golden Globe nomination for her role here, is the most determined and ruthless since we’ve seen her since ‘Gone Girl’. She’s also at her most entertaining, camping up Marla (in poise and presentation) and the romp she finds herself on with all she’s got.
With a nihilistic opening monologue that recalls something from ‘Fight Club’, ‘I Care a Lot’ quickly establishes its callous tone and characters, expressing how being poor is so much worse than being wealthy, how one should aspire to be a predator, not prey. The system Marla manipulates to make her scheme work has surprisingly few moving parts, and the ease with which she exploits and corrupts is shocking. With a doctor on side and a sympathetic judge, it seems there is little she can’t achieve.
Ruthless is a word that comes to mind over and over while watching this film. As the first act unfolds, you sympathise, thinking what if it were your own grandparents being exploited? Yet the narrative is also so darkly funny, you look forward to seeing if Marla will get away with it. ‘I Care a Lot’ wastes no time either at bringing Roman into the plot, at which point the story and characters involved become even more interesting, and more aggressive. Safe to say that all involved lean into the overly dramatic, thrilling nature of the story, and the resulting film is fresh and exhilarating.
It’s all up in the air as to who will come out on top, as Marla relies on the legal system and misplaced trust (at least, initially), while Roman utilises threat and violence. The plot takes twists and turns right up to the very end. Brazen and intoxicating, it is well worth a watch.
'I Care a Lot' is streaming on Amazon Prime in Ireland and the UK, among other territories, from 19 February. It streams on Netflix in the US and other countries from the same date.