In ‘I Care a Lot,’ Rosamund Pike Is as Wicked as Ever

Rosamund Pike once again taps into her evil side in “I Care a Lot,” a dark comedy that turns into an unnerving thriller. Pike stars as Marla Grayson, a career con artist who ensnares vulnerable senior citizens under the guise of protecting them. All is well in her world until she learns that her latest ward, Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest), is already under the protection of the Russian mafia, and Marla discovers she has made an enemy almost as ruthless as her, mob boss Peter Dinklage.

When we first meet Marla, she’s running a successful grift with the help of her assistant and girlfriend, Fran (Eiza González), and Karen (Alicia Witt), a doctor who refers to her senior patients showing the slightest signs of mental decline. Marla swoops in and petitions to be their legal guardian, convincing the judge (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) that she is the best person to take care of them and look after their finances (basically selling their assets and lining her own pockets), even if the person already has living family. Once again, Pike, who is best known for “Gone Girl,” plays a “ball buster” rather convincingly, especially in a scene early on in which she threatens to castrate the angry son of one of her wards after he comes at her in front of a courthouse,

While Marla definitely has sociopathic tendencies, she is not technically a sociopath, as she is capable of love, as we see through her passionate relationship with Fran. When Karen brings her Jennifer on a silver platter, she thinks she’s hit the jackpot, as Jennifer owns her house, has plenty of money saved, and no known living relatives. Soon, Jennifer is tucked away in a care facility against her will, and her disappearance doesn’t go unnoticed by Roman Lunyov (Dinklage), a dangerous mobster. Like Marla, Roman only cares about one thing in this world, and for him that thing is Jennifer. Marla first realizes something is up when a slick lawyer, Dean (the always fantastic Chris Messina) comes into her office waving around a suitcase full of cash and vague threats. But she won’t let go of Jennifer without a fight or a payoff in the millions, especially after she finds a bag of diamonds in her safe deposit box. 

While “I Care a Lot” starts off as a dark comedy satirizing greed and how the system fails seniors, it turns into something else after Roman brings in the big guns, and a cat-and-mouse game between him and Marla ensues. While Roman has some large thugs under him, the war between him and Marla ultimately comes down to a battle of the wits. It’s not an easy task to get a viewer invested into a film in which just about every character is despicable, but writer-director J Blakeson pulls it off with a script that is full of tension and twists. It also helps that the cast is top-notch. Pike is as wicked as ever, and Dinklage, who usually plays characters who use their cunningness for good, holds his own, really sinking his teeth into this delicious role.

By the end, we see some key characters go “legit,” using the skills they acquired as small-time evil-doers to become wildly successful in the business world. By including this development, Blakeson makes it clear where he stands on capitalism, and the viewer can’t help but wonder if all billionaires have to have had at least a little bit of a sociopath inside of them to make it to where they are. The only criticism of the film is that we don’t get any of Marla’s backstory, which could have been very compelling.

I Care a Lot” begins streaming Feb. 19 on Netflix.