Thursday, February 18, 2021

Movie with Abe: I Care a Lot

I Care a Lot
Directed by J Blakeson
Released February 19, 2021

The phrase “crime doesn’t pay” isn’t entirely accurate since, at the height of their operations, many people conducting illegal business will be making a considerable amount of money. The idea is that such fortune won’t always remain, and those who traffic in criminal enterprises are likely to meet others equally motivated by the allure of getting rich who will be happy to squash their competition to then take their share for themselves. Even if the spoils do not ultimately go to the victor, there is definitely collateral damage along the way, a concept mostly ignored by this darkly comedic caper film.

Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike) works as a legal guardian, protecting the interests of older individuals deemed unfit to care for themselves by a court, or at least that’s what she claims to do. She has the game rigged, working with her business partner Fran (Eiza González), a doctor (Alicia Witt), and a nursing home administrator (Damian Young) to prey on vulnerable and unconnected elderly people she can steal from and ensure won’t have any power to stop her. Her latest target, Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest), seems like the perfect mark, until Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage), a dangerous mobster, comes looking for the woman who it turns out does have people in her life that very much care about what happens to her.

This isn’t a film that addresses morality much, opening with a man (Macon Blair) desperate to be allowed to see his mother after Marla has cut off any access her has to her, a challenge Marla easily has dismissed and is congratulated for achieving. She delights in being a wildly successful con artist, and her response to being intimidated by Roman’s henchmen is to fight harder to rob Jennifer of any autonomy she has left. The many people hurt along the way by Marla seeking a win and to add to her overall net worth make it difficult to root for her, though Roman, a temperamental man who uses violence to achieve what he wants, is no more sympathetic.

Addressing ethics may not be paramount here, and separating the film from its message is possible. As a piece of entertainment, this film functions very well, treading an initially familiar plot structure before subverting expectations to keep audiences engaged. Pike, who earned a surprise Golden Globe nomination for her performance, is delightfully full of energy in a way she rarely is, and González makes her supporting character feel vital and necessary when she otherwise might not have been. They make a formidable and very watchable duo. Dinklage could play this part in his sleep, but that shouldn’t diminish his skill at being quietly intimidating and capable of making people much bigger than him cower. Overall, this is an enjoyable ride that should keep audiences invested and enthralled for its nearly two-hour runtime, even if they don’t feel great about hoping for a happy end for any of its characters.


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