- Evan Laslo
I Care a Lot: Pantsuits, Predators, and the Pursuit of Power, by Caroline Cruise
“There are two types of people in this world: The people who take and those getting took. Predators and prey. Lions and lambs. My name is Marla Greyson, and I’m not a lamb. I’m a fucking lioness.” These are some of the first words uttered by the protagonist of Netflix’s black comedy film, I Care a Lot (2021). Marla Greyson, portrayed by Rosamund Pike, is determined to become as rich and powerful as possible. She gains her fortune by scamming the elderly after becoming their court-appointed guardian.
The process is unbelievably simple: Greyson bribes Dr. Amos, a maligned geriatrician, who then falsely testifies that her patients can no longer take care of themselves. Greyson is assigned to control their finances as the patients are removed from their homes and placed in care facilities. Once the patients are isolated, Greyson liquifies their assets and takes the money for herself.
Early in the film, Dr. Amos reveals that one of her wealthy patients, Jennifer Peterson (played by Dianne West), could be of interest for Marla and her business partner/girlfriend, Fran. Jennifer seems to be the perfect victim: She has no living family members, touts an impeccable credit score, and sits on a pile of cash. The pair is convinced they’ve struck gold, but their celebration is short-lived when an unexpected visitor reveals that Miss Peterson is the mother of a Russian gangster, played by Peter Dinklage. Marla quickly realizes that she’s bitten off more than she can chew.
The two women are in over their heads, but Greyson is determined to do whatever it takes to win. Greyson’s greed and lack of empathy could make her seem one-dimensional; however, Rosamund Pike’s charisma gives Greyson a charm few others could create. Her character is sheer evil, but she’s very intelligent and easily manipulates a broken system built for taking advantage of vulnerable people.
Greyson pulls off this feat in sky-high stilettos and sleek pantsuits. Marla’s costumes do a fantastic job of creating a visual aesthetic and providing character depth. For example, she sports a canary yellow pantsuit and Nike Air Force 1s when she arrives at Miss Peterson’s house for the first time. Her yellow pantsuit clashes with Peterson’s royal blue walls, which establishes her role as an intruder. But the yellow pantsuit also reflects Greyson’s boldness. She’s not subtle or secretive. She’s clearly an intruder, and she’s clearly taking advantage of the people around her. But no one actually succeeds in stopping her. That is, until she becomes Miss Peterson’s guardian.
I thought that the first half of the film does a great job slowly building up suspense as Jennifer’s identity is revealed. However, the second half falls flat. The action sequences held my attention, but they were a little over-the-top and undermined the movie’s plot. Other aspects of the story were just unbelievable. The beginning of the film establishes that Peterson’s son and his cronies are experienced, cold-blooded killers, yet their careless mistakes suggest that they might be a little out of practice.
I also thought that the writing was a little clunky. Some of Marla’s interactions with the male characters try to create a feminist tone as Marla asserts that she’s not to be messed with. However, this message comes off as superficial and “girlboss”-esque. Yes, Marla may be proving men wrong, but she’s still an awful person who makes her living exploiting innocent people.
Overall, I have mixed opinions about this movie. The plot is very entertaining and contains several twists that will leave you on the edge of your seat. The cast is also stellar and brings this story to life. Pike creates a fascinating anti-hero, and Dianne West’s performance as Jennifer intensifies the suspense in the film’s build-up. However, the back half of the film didn’t go in the direction I thought it would and left me wanting more. The film makes for an interesting two hours, but if you really want to watch a thriller, I’d recommend watching Pike in David Fincher’s Gone Girl (2014) instead.