I’ve been kinda surprised that Rosamund Pike didn’t receive better roles after knocking the part of Amy Dunne outta the park in David Fincher’s 2014 adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl.” I suspect many in Hollywood might’ve confused Pike with Dunne and were scared to work with her as she so thoroughly and convincingly inhabited the titular sociopath. (Then again, Pike has young children. Maybe she simply took some time to be a Mom? Regardless, the only role and movie of hers that’s really registered with me since is Rosalee Quaid in Scott Cooper’s “Hostiles.”) I’m glad the industry has finally taken a “if we can’t beat her, let’s join her” approach to Pike by gifting her the arguably even scarier role of Marla Grayson in writer/director J Blakeson’s new Netflix dark comedy/thriller “I Care a Lot.”
Grayson works as a guardian, placing elderly people in assisted living facilities if they’re deemed a danger to themselves and taking control of their homes, finances and medical treatment whether they want it/need it or not. She’s assisted in this task by her business/romantic partner Fran (Eiza González, sporting Jennifer Beals’ “Flashdance” hair). The ladies receive their marks from Dr. Amos (Alicia Witt), who refers patients who annoy her. Grayson’s granted countless guardianships by Judge Lomax (Isiah Whitlock Jr. – “Sheeeeeeeit!”), an adjudicator she has wrapped around her finger. Grayson also has an in with Sam Rice (Damian Young), the administrator of a convalescent home who takes his marching orders from her, but also isn’t above extorting funds from Grayson when the opportunity presents itself.
Grayson and Fran set their sights on Jennifer Peterson (Diane Wiest), whom they refer to as a “Cherry.” She’s the perfect candidate on paper – with no ostensible family and reams of money. Unfortunately for the predatory pair, Peterson is connected to Russian mobster Roman Lunyov (the ever-consistent Peter Dinklage). If Lunyov can’t extricate Peterson via legal means spearheaded by slick attorney Dean Ericson (a very entertaining Chris Messina – I could’ve used more of him), he won’t hesitate to employ more aggressive and violent tactics.
Pike excels at playing ice queens. She truly ups the game on her already boffo “Gone Girl” bonafides. Grayson’s no Boy Wonder, she’s a Woman Reprobate. Pike undoubtedly deserves the Golden Globe she’s been nominated for and an Oscar nod should follow. It’s no small feat to make women as gorgeous as Pike and González so thoroughly grotesque through their character’s actions and “I Care a Lot” does just that.
“I Care a Lot” will anger a lot of its audience and with good reason. Elder abuse is a serious issue in this country – those who engage in such behaviors are cowardly and the absolute worst of the worst. (I’d lump ‘em together with those who abuse women, children and animals. If I were “King of the World” and someone were caught dead to rights perpetrating any of these misdeeds, there’s no trial, you do not pass Go, you do not collect $200, you’re simply dragged into an alley and shot in the face. And I’m a liberal, folks!) I audibly asserted while watching this movie that Grayson deserved to have her ears and nose cut off, eyes gouged out, hands chopped off and to be dumped in a landfill, which prompted my wife to tell me just how profoundly fucked up I am.
It’s a huge credit to Blakeson as a filmmaker and Pike as an actress that they drew such a visceral reaction from me as a viewer. Some might find it distasteful that they’ve grafted a darkly comedic thriller to the theme of elder abuse, but the resulting product is undeniably entertaining, funny and suspenseful and most importantly it’ll hopefully shine a light on this important issue. The movie also gave me pause to think about quitting vaping as Grayson is so damned draconian incessantly doing it and that ain’t a bad thing.