This lot doesn’t care about anyone

This lot doesn’t care about anyone

Review: I Care A Lot
Starring Rosamund Pike, Dianne Wiest, Eiza González
Directed by J Blakeson

The impact of aged care is not new to society. Still, the industries that are fueled by this sector of the population are growing every year. Unfortunately, within this multi-layered business behemoth, some individuals look to profit off the elderly without much care for their wellbeing. This subject is at the heart of the latest dark comedy from writer/director J Blakeson (The 5th Wave). As he introduces the world to his ruthless and conniving creation named Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike).

Some might call her a gifted grifter, while others would label her as a seedy con woman. Yet, the racket that she has established is technically legal, despite being a wicked treatment of senior citizens. Marla has managed to set up sourcing ‘clients’ from local doctors who determine that these elderly patients are not far from being placed in assisted living. This is when the con artist goes to a local family court judge and has the retirees placed under her guardianship, even though they have never met this woman. Marla then goes on to get them committed to a nursing home. As their guardian, she liquidates their property and assets to fund her business and lavish lifestyle.

One day she is given a tip from her partnering doctor of a wealthy patient named Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest). This lively and vivacious woman lives independently and has no living relatives. After going through the usual routine of getting her latest mark committed to a local nursing home, Marla and her business partner and lover, Fran (Eiza González) begin to inventory all of Ms. Peterson’s worldly possessions. This leads them to discover that their latest client may have more of a backstory than they were led to believe. This became a stark reality when they were approached by a Russian mob boss’ lawyer. He had an offer and a threat if ladies did not release Jennifer Peterson from their questionable guardianship. An offer that Marla initially rejects as she intends to try to get more from the deal. Until many of the people in her organisation begin to disappear or are found dead. When she finds herself in the boot of her luxury car, the accomplished con-woman has to determine if she may have gone too far this time.

What quickly becomes evident as this story unfolds is that few characters are worth cheering for in this film. J Blakeson’s tale takes the whole definition of a dark comedy to a deeper shade of black. His protagonist turns into an antagonist and the villain manages to get nastier through each act. This means that many will want to take a shower after watching this film. A suggestion that will begin the process of washing away all of the muck that is raked up from the depths of this vicious depiction of human depravity.

This is not to say that it does not have its highlights, specifically in its lead actors’ performances. Both Rosamund Pike and Peter Dinklage seem to relish in these roles with disturbing ferocity. Performances that should be celebrated even though there are few redeeming aspects to their characters. Dianne Wiest and Chris Messina as the mob lawyer were some of the most intriguing screenplay figures. Still, they are not on-screen long enough to truly add much seasoning to this bitter-tasting malicious movie. Even though it is meant to be a comedy, most of the laughs turn into uncomfortable cringes of disgust as each scene passes.

There is a clever script woven into the multitude of statements on sexual politics, gender definitions, and flexible morality. Unfortunately, when every brilliant moment within this script begins to come to life, it is quickly crushed under a barrage of mean-spirited interpretations of the human condition. A project that might have made more sense in the hands of the Coen Brothers (Fargo) or Martin McDonagh (Seven Psychopaths), but I Care A Lot merely comes off as a nasty piece of work that is impossible to like as the curtain closes.

REEL DIALOGUE – What determines your moral centre?

If there is anything to take away from films like I Care A Lot, there is something wrong with this world. The moral ambiguity of the people’s choices in the film may be hard to stomach, but is not hard to understand. The discomfort may come from asking where we determine our own morality.

In this world where everyone has an opinion about every moral stance, it has become critical to figure out how to answer this philosophical question finding our moral centre. The answer can be found in studying the person of Jesus. Not that it is a simple answer, but as you look into his life and death the answer will be evident. Pick up one of his life accounts and see how God answers this multi-layered query with one man.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? – Jeremiah 17:9

I Care A Lot is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video.

Russ Matthews

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