Mistreatment of the elderly is a moral dilemma reverberating through public consciousness and regularly amplified by the news media. The problematic treatment of upper agers and its after effects feeding off that reality has a new spin in the big screen tragicomedy “I Care A Lot”. The title serves as a double meaning, landing a jab to the gut, revealing weaknesses in a system that’s supposed to protect, overlooking the needs and care of our segregated loved ones. Though there are comic overtones, viewers still feel a sense of guilt in reacting to the humor.
Rosamund Pike, a Best Actress Golden Globe winner for the role, plays Marla Grayson, a character with a brittle cold interior, while outwardly displaying a welcoming smile and selfish self-assuredness. Marla is a court-appointed conservatore for wealthy seniors with mental and physical dificiencies. Her methods are on the shady side of legitimacy, courting input from unscrupulous doctors and assisted living facility directors, while sweet talking judges to release people into her care. Then it’s on to severing family connections, enriching herself cleaning out their bank accounts and selling their assets. She has legal backing knowing her charges are unable to resist court decisions.
Pike, who hasn’t been seen on screen for some time, doesn’t look evil, but plays it like she’s the Devil’s tool, a throwback to her cunning, cagey turn in “Gone Girl”. Marla exudes solid confidence and lack of fear, spreading evil and orchestrating immoral situations which worsen as the narrative unfolds. The actress makes you hate her character, while appreciating her artistic ability to make you feel it.
Marla’s dubious scam is running smoothly until she is slammed by an adversary. Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest) is an old lady not to be messed with. Though she’s plagued by memory loss, is childless, has no husband and no living family, Jennifer’s assets are substantial. An ecstatic Marla muses, “She’s the golden goose – with a nest egg,” Her enthusiasm diminishes upon receipt of a cease-and-desist document from Jennifer’s lawyer referencing her “scamming” tactics. Surprisingly there is also an offer of a large bribe threatening violence if she doesn’t drop the matter.
Jennifer holds an advantage, her gangster son Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage), who’s devoted to his mother, has connections to the mob. Dinklage captures the character with quirky, calm mannerisms and occasional verbal flare-ups. Double Oscar winner Wiest, who doesn’t have major screen time, seems to be having major delight with her role.
“I Care A Lot” presents a moral dilemma; a dark comedy sourced from the sobering actuality of society’s assault on the most vulnerable. Enjoy, but be mindful of what’s REALLY happening in the REAL world.
As of this writing, “I Care A Lot” is screening on Prime.