I Care A Lot Review: Pike kills it in this thrilling and captivating power struggle
The latest film in Netflix’s weekly film releases is a thrilling cat and mouse game between evil and unassuming evil from writer/director J Blakeson – I Care A Lot.
The entire first act of viewers being introduced to Marla (Rosemund Pike) and Fran (Eiza Gonzalez), two con artists that defraud elders by completely liquidating their financial assets as their legal guardians while their elder rots in a nursing home, is like watching a realistic, disturbing horror film play out. As you watch Marla and Fran suddenly rip people out their lives with the help of the legal and medicinal systems to drain them of their money, there’s this slowly building disgust and hatred that makes you view Marla and Fran as two horrifying villains. Just the thought of someone coming to your house, completely taking you out of your current life, totally silencing you, and labeling you as being incapable is utterly terrifying. However, watching it play out is downright gruesome and legitimately shocking to believe that this could happen. With all of this in mind, Blakeson creates a chilling first act that strikes your heart and creates two undeniably villainous characters that you absolutely despise – yet still find kind of charming.
Truth be told, if there’s anyone that can make two characters as calculated and evil as Marla and Fran remotely likeable and charismatic it’s Pike and Gonzalez. Pike channels all her energy from Gone Girl and puts it into making Marla a determined force for financial power. She expertly embodies someone solely seeking power and wealth and who’s willing to cross any and every line to get it. Even in Marla’s darkest moments, Pike’s performance keeps you drawn into everything she does and commands the screen with swift and callus conviction. Gonzalez is equally great in elevating the devious behavior of these two and kind of grounds Marla from being too ambitious. These two have a delightfully villainous chemistry that carries the film and showcases Pike giving another career-best performance. The entire cast is honestly pretty incredible, and Chris Messina delivers, I think, one of his best performances to date.
While the first act really solidifies Marla and Fran’s villainous roles, the rest of the film begins to see them start to unravel as their latest mark Jennifer (Dianne Wiest) is more trouble than they assumed. From here, the film becomes an incredibly thrilling power struggle that’s endlessly compelling to watch. The twists and turns that come as Marla and Fran see that they’re dealing with someone with very dangerous connections is a lot of fun and Pike only gets better and better as the film goes on. The only major mistake this film makes is not fully embracing Marla and Fran’s villainous stature in its story.
While the first act establishes these two as cold, unapologetic villains that are driven by the belief that nothing good comes from being good, the rest of the film feels like it’s trying to get you to sympathize with them as protagonists trying to work against an “eviler” force. Outside of the evil charm from Pike and Gonzalez and the certain level of respect you have for them with how they own who they are, there’s nothing about Marla and Fran that’s all that likeable. There’re no personal connections that make them a little more human and Jennifer is much easier to sympathize with since she’s being tormented by Marla. With how the initial act makes you really despise them; all you want to see is them slowly get their comeuppance by someone they expected as weak. They eventually do get the retribution they have coming to them, but it’s not as satisfying with the way the film positions them in the final act. Marla and Fran are great villains, but it’s a shame the film just can’t fully own that from start to finish.
I Care A Lot is a genuinely riveting watch of villainous characters going toe to toe that’s full of excellent performances and one unbelievably captivating showing from Pike. It’s a fun thrill ride full of shocks that leave you on the edge of your seat and surprise you with how downright diabolic its characters will get for a small taste of power.