Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike) is an extremely cynical and completely unscrupulous swindler, alien to any kind of empathy. She built her business on picking off defenseless old people. It would seem that it could be worse than this type of business, but Marla is not at all concerned about any issues of ethics and morality. In this life, the strongest wins, and if you are weak, then you will be the prey of the strong, she believes.
Marla is very efficient. She has established a good business relationship with the director of a specialized nursing home for patients with senile dementia, Sam Rice (Damian Young), and he helps her in everything – of course, not selfishly. She also bribed Dr. Karen Amos (Alicia Witt), who gives Marla the information she needs.
The scheme works as follows: with the help of her informants, Marla finds a suitable target – an old man with incipient dementia, who has good real estate – after which Dr. Amos issues a certificate to Marla stating that this person cannot take care of himself and should be placed under guardianship. Further, Judge Lomax (Isaiah Whitlock Jr.), well-disposed towards Marla – he sincerely believes that she helps the old people – decides that this person should be placed under the care of Marla’s company, after which the unfortunate old man is sent to Sam Rice’s institution, which must make sure that the old man never comes out of there, and Marla sells all the property of this man and disposes of the proceeds as she sees fit.
At some point, Marla was given a very “sweet” tip: a certain Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest) is a lonely old woman who lives in a good house in a wealthy area, and she, apparently, has no relatives: Marla does not like to deal with relatives, they can sometimes be very tiresome and ask all sorts of annoying questions.
With Jennifer, they pulled off the standard scheme: the doctor gave a certificate, the judge made a decision, Sam Rice put the old woman in his institution and made sure that Miss Peterson was drugged properly if she suddenly starts to squirm.
However, Marla does not yet know that Jennifer Peterson is not the old woman’s real name. And that she actually has a son – crime boss Roman Lunev (Peter Dinklage). And Lunev will be very angry when he finds out what Marla did to his mother. And he will find out very soon – Roman’s henchman Alexei Ignatiev (Nicholas Logan) once a month, under the guise of a taxi driver, comes for a woman to take her to see his son.
The idea of such a film came to the British director Jay Blakeson when he saw on TV a story about a certain social worker who robbed the elderly, taking advantage of loopholes in the law. Blakeson wrote the script, which circulated for some time through film studios and eventually got to Rosamund Pike, who became interested in the role of Marla.
The film was produced by Black Bear Pictures and premiered in September 2020 at the Toronto International Film Festival. After the premiere, the rights to the show were bought by the streaming service Netflix. Actress Rosamund Pike won a Golden Globe in 2021 for this role.
However, the audience rating of the film is very low (although not a failure), and at one time I was somehow not interested in it. I was advised to watch it in the comments to the review of the series “Family Marriage”, where Rosamund Pike plays one of the main roles, and she is very good there.
As a result, I watched “Swindler” (the original title of I Care a Lot in this case can be translated as “I really care”), and I liked the picture, in general, although not without some reservations, which we’ll talk about now.
This film, like the recently discussed film Cold Calculation, belongs to the category of films that critics like and audiences don’t like: on Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a high rating of 78% from critics and a below-the-line 34% from viewers.
And, as in the case of Cold Calculation, it is understandable why this happened. Because this film is made quite unusually. How are films about all sorts of swindlers traditionally built? A nice swindler (or a swindler) deftly deceives some bad, and sometimes very bad people, you sympathize with these swindlers and watch their tricks with pleasure.
This is not even seen here. Marla is a specifically ruthless creature who has no moral principles, and it does not pull at all to empathize with her, even when she finds herself in almost hopeless situations.
There could also be another option: a specifically ruthless creature ran into a superior force – a specific bandit – and the audience will be happy to watch how this creature is trampled.
However, this, in general, does not happen here either, although a significant part of the film is devoted to the topic of Marla’s confrontation with Roman Lunev. It’s just that the crime boss here is just a comedy, rather a caricature with all his smoothies and sweets. Yes, and his henchmen, to be honest, are pretty crooked and squint at every turn. Plus, Marla is not easy to intimidate, she is a very, very stubborn lady.
As a result, the audience is somewhat lost, because they do not understand what exactly they are watching. Pretty scammer? No. Ruthless mafia? Also no. And then what?
Meanwhile, in my opinion, this film is, first of all, a social satire, it is not for nothing that the director was inspired by a real story. Here he shows what can happen to such an important and necessary matter as social guardianship if it falls into the hands of people who are not burdened with any moral principles. It also demonstrates that if a person is ruthless, devoid of any empathy, at the same time purposeful and no threats stop him, then he can achieve a lot in this life. Moreover, in reality, of course, there are such people, and they often occupy a high position in society – there are many examples of this.
Rosamund Pike won a Golden Globe for this role for a reason: her Marla is absolutely a masterpiece in her unconditional repulsion: she has great charisma and a very bright negative charm, and it is interesting to see how ruthless and immoral she is. Rosamund Pike often played the heroines of the sweet and pretty – as, for example, in “Dream Vacation”, – however, complex characters with a certain “wormhole” are also quite up to her, it is enough to recall her role in “Gone Girl”. But here it’s completely brilliant: how skillfully she misleads the judge, pretending to be a caring and caring person, with what an icy gaze she bargains with those who work for her, and with what complete indifference and indifference she looks at the unfortunate old people whom she escorts them to a nursing home, and appropriates their property.
Peter Dinklage has a role here, as I said, almost a caricature, and he is more responsible for the comedic component here. His authority turned out to be very funny, I liked it.
I also liked Eiza Gonzalez, who played Fran, Marla’s closest assistant and lover (she does not recognize men, and men have no power over Marla). I saw this actress only in some very episodic roles in different films, but here she has a rather large role. The actress is effective and charismatic, a good character turned out.
Well, it is necessary to note Dianne Wiest, who played the same Jennifer Peterson, whom Marla took to a nursing home. I remember this actress from the series “Mayor of Kingstown”, where she played the mother of the protagonist. Here she has a small role, but the looks that she throws at Marla, who came to her nursing home, they are worth a lot, they are so eloquent.
In general, such a somewhat strange film, not without flaws, but I liked it, and above all, I really liked Rosamund Pike – she portrayed a rare viper, you need to be able to play it like that! Yes, and Peter Dinklage is traditionally good.
I will not recommend, the film is specific, but, in my opinion, worthy of viewing.
I Care a Lot
Director: Jay Blakeson Cast: Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Asa Gonzalez, Dianne Wiest, Chris Messina, Isaiah Whitlock Jr., Macon Blair, Alicia Witt, Damian Young, Nicholas Logan
Crime tragicomedy, USA-UK, 2020, 118 min.