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‘I Care a Lot’ fails to impress

| Monday, March 1, 2021

Diane Park | The Observer

“I Care a Lot” is the fourth film from writer/director J. Blakeson, who brings a visually striking stylistic presentation to the film. However, the style does not make up for the film’s lack of substance.

“I Care a Lot” centers around Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike), a professional legal guardian who works with doctors and nursing home managers to place vulnerable elderly patients under her care so that she can move them into care facilities and drain them of their assets. Marla bites off more than she can chew after taking on Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest), and soon discovers that Jennifer is rich and has some shady mob connections. It turns out that Jennifer is the mother of Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage), a mob boss who will do anything to free his mother from Marla’s clutches, kicking off a series of encounters between Marla, Roman and Roman’s associates which make up the bulk of the film’s runtime.

Let’s start with the good. “I Care a Lot” is a great looking movie. Blakeson brings a stylistic presence to the film, and the film’s aesthetic choices succeed. Although, the film does try to replicate the use of neon lighting found in films such as “Drive” and “Only God Forgives” a little too often for my taste. The use of neon lighting is largely superfluous, most of the sequences that it is used for do not add to the film’s narrative and could have been cut.

The film is largely carried by Pike and Dinklage, both of whom give very good performances. Pike is flawlessly cast as Marla, and I quite honestly cannot see anyone else playing that character. Dinklage, however, was a rather unexpected choice and I am happy to say that he fits the role of Roman perfectly.

Now on to the bad. “I Care a Lot” is a film without redeemable characters. The main character robs the elderly by colluding with those who work in the medical and assisted living systems, a setup that has the potential to be a scathing critique of those systems which the film portrays, but instead devolves into a messy crime narrative. The plot feels cheap and every twist can be seen coming from a mile away.

For better or worse, I found myself thinking of “Uncut Gems,” a film that feels akin to “I Care a Lot.” That is not to say the two are similar or should even be placed into the same category. Rather, both films center around a character the audience should not like and follows them through their shady doings and escapades in the worlds they inhabit. However, by the end of “Uncut Gems,” I was deeply invested in the lives of the characters and wanted nothing more for them to succeed. “I Care a Lot” failed to make me care, and I struggled to even remain engaged with the film’s plot. Beyond making me angry at Marla, I did not feel any real connection to the characters due to a collective lack of any redeeming qualities.

The question of what could have been lingers after watching “I Care a Lot.” What could have been an indictment of a corrupt system instead presents a messy crime narrative without a character for the audience to root for. Despite its promising premise, “I Care a Lot” ultimately crumbles under the weight of its cynicism.

Title: “I Care a Lot”

Director: J. Blakeson

Starring: Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage

Genre: Crime, thriller

If you liked: “Uncut Gems,” “War Dogs,” “Gone Girl”

Shamrocks: 2.5 out of 5

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