Netflix & Chill #93: I Care A Lot

Hey, remember that Bond movie, Die Another Day? Rosamund Pike was the best thing about that

movie and although I'll admit to not seeing her in a lot of movies since (she stars as Marie Curie in Curie, floating around on Amazon Prime and I'm beyond excited to see her as Moiraine Damodred in the upcoming Wheel of Time show- also on Amazon) hot damn, does she deliver an absolutely searing performance in I Care A Lot.

Pike stars as Marla Grayson who is amoral, cynical, greedy, unapologetic, and a con woman who makes her living- with a company and everything and actual employees- by persuading a judge to appoint her as court-ordered guardian over elders living on their own, under the guise that they cannot take care of themselves. She puts them in assisted living facilities, cuts off all contact to the outside world, and sells their homes and assets for her own profit.

In short, she's quite literally the worst human being you could possibly think of, and when a local Doctor, who likes to pawn difficult patients off to Marla sends her a tip about Jennifer Petersen (Dianne Wiest) a local lady who lives alone and seems to have a lot of money on her hands. Marla for her part thinks "jackpot" but almost immediately realizes that Jennifer Petersen isn't at all what she seems. A cab driver shows up at the house where Marla's girlfriend and business partner Fran (Eiza Gonzalez) is renovating it and preparing it for sale and is quite upset to find out that Jennifer is missing. He returns to his employer, Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage) who is even more upset and orders that Jennifer be found. 

She's eventually located by Roman's friends and then Marla starts to get an inkling that Jennifer might be more important than she thinks when a well-dressed lawyer, Dean (Chris Messina) shows up in her office and requests that Jennifer be released immediately in exchange for $150,000. A normal person, at this point, would have gotten the message and arranged for Jennifer's release. Marla being Marla, she decides to double down and investigate further, finding a bunch of diamonds in Jennifer's safe deposit box- which of course, she has access to. She takes the diamonds and keeps trying to find out just who Jennifer is, but then Roman sends his goons to get Jennifer out of the nursing home and they ultimately fail to do so.

Marla escalates and (horribly) increases Jennifer's drugs and her exercise routine and eventually gets her sent to a secure psychiatric ward and that's when Roman gets really pissed. The Doctor that referred Jennifer to Marla, to begin with? Dead. Fran and Marla? Holed up in one of her client's other properties. Marla gets kidnapped and nearly killed. Fran is assaulted. They eventually figure out that Roman is an ex-Russian mobster who faked his death a few years back and got away with some money- Jennifer? She's his actual mother. With Marla's escape from near death, Fran and Marla hatch their own plan to flip the tables on Roman- they kidnap him and get him admitted to a care facility.

Roman and Marla eventually strike a deal- but it's not the one Marla was expecting. Roman wants to go into business with her- and Grayson Guardianships is born. They make obscene amounts of money exploiting the elderly, Marla gets rich. Marla and Fran get married and then one day as she's finishing an interviewing and walking with Fran to their very expensive car, her uppence finally comes. (I won't explain exactly what it is because spoilers.)

Overall: If you're moving your loved ones into assisted living, don't watch this movie. It will cut a little too close to home- but I think there are a number of ways to look at this movie. One, it's Marla's movie: she is a woman, refusing to apologize, gaming the system, and doing whatever it takes to get hers. Maybe that shouldn't be as refreshing as it seems to be here- but it feels refreshing here. Rosamund Pike makes it feel almost revelatory. Two, an indictment of the current American system of capitalism- where meritocracy is withering on the vine and everyone is out to get their slice of the great big pie, no matter the cost- and they might get that slice of the pie, but sooner or later, everyone will pay a price for it. My Grade: *** out of ****

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