Movie Review: I Care A Lot
Deeply rooted in the court cases, emotional strife and torturous ease of manipulating facts and figures yet far removed from the actual meaning and feelings of these actions, I Care A Lot is a mixed bag. With Rosamund Pike at the centre of it all, director J Blakeson crafts a formidably interesting narrative, following Marla Grayson (Pike), a court-appointed carer who has conned and scammed her way through inheritances and infirmity of the weak and frail. Biting off more than she can chew is inevitable, but it is her fall from grace that Blakeson, as director and screenwriter, wishes to focus on for much of the running time. Or at least, it would be had he kindled his clear talent and honed in his skills on sharper, poignant points.
I Care A Lot is frustrating. A begrudgingly likeable piece with a strong cast of clearly talented individuals. Slowly building itself up as a meticulously planned thriller, the second those neon lights and synth notes appear, it is clear that Blakeson has resigned himself to the draw of modernity. Before this, he had a stylish, well-crafted piece on his hands, an alluring premise filled with conniving, slimy characters. All of it was coming together well, but Pike and Peter Dinklage butt heads, using an array of disposable, forgettable characters to wage war on one another’s lives. Many threads are not tied neatly by the end of the film. Blakeson is so focused on making sure his lead story has a clean getaway that he forgets to implement the finer details. His narrative is unpredictable, yet still favours the end that will ruffle the least number of feathers.
Who an audience is meant to feel sympathy or emotion for is unclear. Pike represents a seedy underbelly of evil self-interest, while Dinklage prefers the crime boss operation. It is hard to support either character, we care for events rather than actions, and this does much to underwhelm the piece. Had they been written with more prominence or gusto; it may be a tad easier to engage with the back-and-forth brutality of lawyer and mobster. Then again, some of the supporting performances are lost to poor pacing. Dianne Wiest is all but forgotten after the story begins to disassociate with its crime-thriller dramatics. Instead, it moves away, jumping the shark almost as it turns into a long succession of who can gain the upper hand and do away with their immediate enemy.
Does it show a striking, powerful woman who can get what she wants? Sort of. I Care A Lot does not extend itself further than amicable, and while its story is undeniably interesting, it peters out after a while and doesn’t know what to do with itself. Immediately engrossing, the most valuable asset I Care A Lot has is its flair for direction. While its reliance on modern staples of the thriller stifles the more enjoyable threads, the animosity found between Pike and Dinklage is acceptable, but it all unravels in such a facile manner that it very nearly verges on redundant. It leaves no impression. No final firework of meaning or entertainment. I Care A Lot does not care enough for its ending.