Story time here at Castle Blogferatu. The other day on The Twitters, I came across a Tweet from a London-based reporter named Caroline Frost: “Hmm, I care not a jot for any character in I Care A Lot.” Following the inclinations of my typically juvenile self, I responded with, “Hmm, I don’t care.” She deleted her Tweet and blocked me.
I don’t suppose any invitations for tea and film discussion will be forthcoming any time soon. *shrug*
At first, I wasn’t gonna review this movie. 1) I don’t generally deal with current titles. 2) I didn’t initially consider it a horror movie. But like a subdued, all-too-realistic Brazil, there’s a Kafka-esque bureaucracy at work here that robs its victims of power and agency. What’s chilling is that this kind of thing actually exists. If you wanna see it in action and add a little dread to your life at the same time, check out Framing Britney Spears and then watch I Care A Lot.
Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike) runs a guardianship scam in which she becomes a legal guardian for various seniors then profits from their estates. Helping her accomplish this are a shady care facility manager and an even shadier doctor. This appears to have worked swimmingly for a good while until Marla sets her sights on Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest) who is not what she seems. Okay, so before we go any further, what follows is unusually spoiler heavy for me. Proceed with caution.
Turns out that Jennifer Peterson is an assumed identity, and her son, Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage), is a general in the Russian mob. He’s not happy with any of this and takes immediate steps to remedy the situation.
A few minor plot problems–first Lunyov kills the shady doctor. On one hand it obviously sends a message. On the other hand, it needlessly complicates things. I would have had her roll over on Marla first. And perhaps she did, but it’s not clear.
Later, Marla tracks Lunyov down with a plan to kidnap him. His driver is waiting on the executive deck of a parking garage, and she manages to find the vehicle immediately. I can’t even accomplish this when I already know where I left my car.
And ultimately, the ending is unsatisfying. I would have gone with the horror of Marla getting away with it all, no consequences. Why? It would have added to the Kafka-esque nature I mentioned earlier. Besides, people with a shit-ton of money get away with everything anyway. And third, she totally would’ve had security around her when the son of a deceased ward tried to shoot her. Lunyov had muscle. Why wouldn’t Grayson? She’s not stupid.
Still, it’s a fun yet unnerving watch. Pike is disarming with her sweet smile and cheerful demeanor–the perfect sociopath. On reflection, it’s uncomfortable how engaging and personable Pike makes her character while she robs people of their money, dignity, and family relationships. That’s what contributes to the horror. Dinklage is always watchable and pulls off the cold, calm mob boss with low-voiced menace. His proposition is just as ruthless as Grayson’s scam. And Wiest is just plain fun as the cantankerous Peterson who steps right up to her “guardian” in utter defiance.
Still, some not-so-entertaining realities lurk beneath all this. One is the way we deal with age and aging which is to push it out of sight so we don’t have to face it. Another is the apparent ease with which someone can become a guardian or create a conservatorship of someone else’s person and/or finances. Again, have a look at Framing Britney Spears. Finally, there are those nightmares of immovable bureaucracy and the idea of having to prove one’s own sanity or competence. Once someone manages to have you labeled, anything you say or do to try to prove otherwise comes of as, well, insane.
And now, I think I’ll call and check in with my dad.
Available on Neflix