REVIEW: ‘I Care a Lot’ crumbles due to poor writing

Sometimes there are pieces of media that just try way too hard to be edgy. “I Care a Lot” definitely joins that club.

Rosamund Pike stars as Marla Grayson in “I Care a Lot,” a woman who’s made a career as a legal guardian for the elderly. As part of her job, Grayson will get a notice from a doctor she works with stating that an elderly person can no longer live on her own, which she brings to a court.

In turn, the court will then grant legal guardianship to Grayson, allowing her to determine the care for the elderly person, which results in her putting them in an assisted living facility. It also means she has access to the elderly individual’s finances. The latest individual she decides to get legal guardianship over, Jennifer Peterson (Diane Wiest), though, just happens to have a significant connection to Russian mob boss Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage).

Writer/director J Blakeson’s project is basically him throwing as much edgy dialogue and film techniques at the wall, hoping something sticks. From Marla making a long-winded threat early on in the film that feels unnatural, to slow motion sequences as an attempt to show how complex the legal guardian’s plan is, everything just feels so over done that it comes off as artificial.

Stuff like this continues as the movie goes along with a typical story of a protagonist with a hustling scheme who screws over the wrong person. Those can work in some cases, for example if the character has a hustle that focuses on taking on people in power, in a sort of ‘Robin Hood’ way, it can be compelling and easy to side with the protagonist.

That doesn’t always have to be the case, though. It can also be a situation like this where the character isn’t exactly a good person. Having a protagonist succeed despite being a bad person can work just fine, too.

In recent films, protagonists such as those in “Nightcrawler,” “Sicario,” “Elle” and “Can You Ever Forgive Me,” are all shown making negative choices or doing things outside the law. Yet an audience can be engaged with them because of their depth and nuances. This is also true for last year’s Best Picture winner “Parasite.”

However, Marla doesn’t exactly have much about her that makes her particularly interesting. She’s driven and unapologetic, sure, but there’s not much else going on with the character.

Courtesy STX Entertainment, Black Bear Pictures and Netflix

Which only makes it worse that Blakeson actually writes the film in a way that tries to make an audience root for her, something that’s really not possible to do.

Also not helping the film’s cause is how absurd situations get as the movie goes on. There are several extreme plot conveniences and a few moments where a character evades death in unbelievable ways.

It’s fine to use action movie logic at times, but this movie really wants to go for a dark, heavy tone, and it drops the ball in doing so when it takes these turns into more impossible scenarios.

Then there’s the ending, which I won’t spoil. However, I will say that it was basically a cop out, with the movie wanting it both ways.

“I Care a Lot” is at the very least benefited by a talented cast. Pike, Dinklage and Wiest certainly give the movie more gravitas, elevating the material they have to work with.

Pike certainly has the acting chops to handle such a role, and she is good here, but she’s hindered by the script. It also doesn’t help that she doesn’t really have much chemistry with Eiza Gonzalez, who plays Marla’s girlfriend and work partner Fran.

Overall, “I Care a Lot” offers some good cast members and not much else. It’s a mean-spirited film with surface-level satire and dull commentary making the dark comedy angle fail. 1.25 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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