“Caring, sir, is my job. It’s my profession. This is what I do. All day, every day, I care.”
Meet Marla Grayson. With her perfectly straight bob cut, tight-lipped smile, and colorful coordinated outfits, she is ready to take on the world… but not in the most ethical or fair way. While she is an attractive and bold woman on the outside, on the inside lies an unforgiving beast, ready to lie, steal, and con her way out of anything in order to get rich—really, really, rich. Like she states in the opening narration of the film, you have to ask yourself: in this world, are you a lamb or a lion? Marla Grayson, in every sense of the word, is “a fucking lioness.”
Rosamund Pike, known for her stellar (and unsettling) work as Amy Dunne in Gone Girl, absolutely shines in her role as Marla Grayson, standing out on her own as a new type of con artist. The facade that Marla has built up for the public shows a likeable, organized social worker who works as a legal guardian for the elderly. Once an elderly person is deemed unable to take care of themselves, she swoops in and sends them off to a nice elderly care facility. Meanwhile, she manages their homes, possessions, and other assets. Sounds nice enough, right? It’s like she really does care.
Here’s the catch: Marla’s work with the elderly stems from pure evil. From collaborating with her doctor friend to fudge medical diagnoses, to auctioning away every item and piece of furniture left in her clients’ homes for her own financial gain, Marla is stone cold when it comes to her version of “caring.” She manipulates her clients, stores them away in a care facility, and denies them all access to phones, family, and any sort of contact with the outside world. It’s brutal to watch how easily she is able to take advantage of elderly clients that don’t know any better, and it makes you wonder how someone could be so corrupt and unforgiving. She even has a panel of wall covered with photos of her victims, like some sort of obsessed serial killer.
Eventually, Marla’s greed gets the best of her. Her newest client is Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest), a sweet and unassuming old lady who is understandably confused and angry about being forcibly removed from her home. With no relatives whatsoever and a hefty savings account, Marla thinks she has hit the jackpot. What she doesn’t know, however, is that Jennifer Peterson is tied to some very dangerous people, who will stop at nothing to get her back. They know Marla is at fault, and they want revenge.
What follows is a thrilling back-and-forth between Marla and a mysterious man named Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage), a Russian mobster and (spoiler alert!) secret son of Jennifer Peterson. With each being as ruthless and determined as the other, their actions escalate against each other until shit really starts to hit the fan. Roman isn’t messing around when it comes to his dear mother, but Marla isn’t, either. She’ll stop at nothing to obtain the wealth she’s after.
The entire film is beautifully backed by a soundtrack full of exciting, low-fi electric beats that keep pace with the action happening on the screen. The buildup in this movie is truly some fantastic stuff; it’s fast-paced, intriguing, and always thrilling to watch how Marla runs her elderly scam empire. Even though she is clearly a very bad person, you can’t help but feel fascinated by the coordination and determination that motivates her work. Maybe rooting for her success would be wrong, but it’s still entertaining to watch her get sucked in deeper into the shady ongoings of Roman and his criminal activities.
Unfortunately, the escalating back-and-forth between Marla and Roman is where the quality of the plot starts to drop. The film strays away from the credibility that it worked so hard to establish in the first half, and the dramatic and violent encounters between the two characters feel far from believable. If the director hadn’t gotten too excited and toned down the theatrics, it would have made for a much more cohesive plot. At the sort-of climax of the film, the plot starts to border on being ridiculous, which is a shame after having such a strong opening.
The film does deserve credit, however, for taking an unexpected turn at the end of the film (in more than one way). I won’t spoil the key twist and the shocking conclusion that plays out right before the credits roll, but man, was it unexpected. Thankfully, the writers took the plot in a surprising direction that made the film feel like it was worth watching, despite its mediocre middle segment. The ending ties everything together pretty neatly, while also reminding you that at the end of the day, no matter how #girlboss she may be, Marla Grayson is still a villain.
Honestly, this film was really refreshing to watch. Lately, it has felt like Netflix’s Top 10 List and New Releases have been overcrowded with nothing but cheesy rom-coms, so I Care a Lot provided much more exciting and original content to choose from. It’s funny, the music and costumes are vibrant, and the actors all do a phenomenal job at portraying their characters. Sure, the plot had its downfalls, but overall, this is a movie I would absolutely recommend… because I care a lot.