Toronto 2020: I Care A Lot

I Care A Lot. Courtesy of TIFF.

J Blakeson’s I Care A Lot blends a mix of comedy and thrills to deliver a satire with another strong performance from actress Rosamund Pike.

Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike) is a legal guardian and is the type who will take advantage of any loophole in the system.  If it means paying doctors off to have another ward of the state, so be it.  Marla is the type of woman who will rob her clients and cut off family members.  She means business as we see in the opening scene.  But being good at her job also means making enemies as Marla soon finds out.  For Marla, making money off the elderly is her idea of living the American Dream.

When a vacancy opens up at a care facility, Marla turns to Dr. Karen Amos (Alicia Witt) for her next client.  Marla sees an innocent rich and elderly woman in Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest) but there’s more there than meets the eye.  Before Marla and partner/girfrield Fran know it, a crime lord (Peter Dinklage) is lurking in the corner with a vested interest.

I’m not going to get into the plot details much more than that.  What I will say is that the first hour certainly goes for laughs more so than anything else.  However, once we reach the second hour, Peter Dinklage’s character ups the ante and the film becomes an all-out thriller.  That’s not to say it isn’t a satire because Marla Grayson would fit quite well alongside Aaron Eckhart’s Nick Naylor from Thank You For Smoking.  The two are cut from the same cloth for better or worse.

Legal guardians game the system all the time.  What does it mean to control all the power over a single person?  Can you imagine a family member completely cut off from loved ones?  Writer-director J Blakeson explores these ideas.  The result is a black comedy of what could happen if a guardian went after the wrong mark.  Could you imagine?!?

There’s no likable character here.  Not Marla nor the crime lord.  It’s the first time in a while where I couldn’t find myself rooting for anyone in a movie.  It’s been a long time since audiences have seen anyone like Marla Grayson on screen.  Much like Rosamund Pike’s character in Gone Girl, Marla isn’t someone you want to root for but Pike turns in a hell of a performance.

I Care A Lot may run close to two hours but this film is certainly a fun ride.  Tonally speaking, J Blakeson write a black comedy that could easily have come from the Coen Brothers.  Blakeson’s screenplay is worthy of Oscar contention–this is how original it is.  This film will certainly play well down the road on streaming.  It’s also a film that should be seen with an audience.  As much as I enjoyed watching this thriller alone, I would have loved to have seen reactions from other people in the audience!

I Care A Lot delivers strong performances in this satire but the film is also a reminder of the all-too-often scams directed at the elderly.  When the film does find distribution and gets a release, it’ll certainly get people talking.

CAST:  Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eiza González, Chris Messina, Macon Blair, with Isiah Whitlock Jr. and Dianne Wiest

I Care A Lot held its world premiere during the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival in the Gala program. Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.