Rosamund Pike once again plays an unpredictable madwoman and proves herself in the Netflix thriller comedy I CARE A LOTthat exactly these roles suit her best. We reveal in our review what other qualities J Blakeson’s directorial work has.
OT: I Care a Lot (UK 2020)
Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike), who has the self-confidence of a shark, works as a professional, court-accredited carer for numerous seniors whose assets she takes possession of in a highly dubious but legal way. Marla and her business partner and lover Fran (Eiza González) also use their well-oiled machinery with brutal efficiency on their latest “conquest” Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest) – a very wealthy senior citizen who has no living relatives or heirs. However, when it turns out that Jennifer also has a similarly questionable secret and has ties to an unpredictable gangster (Peter Dinklage), Marla has to step up a gear in order to survive in a fight between opponents that is neither fair nor honest.
The learning curve for some filmmakers is unparalleled: Screenwriter Eric Heisserer, for example, was responsible for the science fiction masterpiece “Arrival” after he wrote the scripts for “Final Destination 5” and the (at least slightly underestimated one) because they equally maintained the fascination for Freddy Kruger as well as slightly darker) “Nightmare on Elm Street” remake. Before Adam McKay was thrust into the awards race for both “The Big Short” and “Vice,” he was responsible for shallow comedies like “The Slightly Different Cops” and “Step Brothers.” And before Peter Berg released his high-intensity terror thriller “Boston,” he directed… “Battleship.” But it also goes the other way around. For example, it’s hard to imagine that the scripts for Paul Verhoeven’s “Elle” and the horror film “Slender Man” by David Birke come from the same author. We don’t yet know which direction writer and director J Blakeson will take. So far, however, things are looking pretty good for the British native: After the more bad than right script for “The Descent 2 – The Hunt Continues” and the directing work for the failed teen dystopia “The 5th Wave”, “I Care a Lot”. And it seems to play into his hands that after “Spurlos” he was once again responsible for directing and screenplay together, because the dramaturgical timing of the script and the impulsive staging complement each other excellently.
Martha (Rosamund Pike), together with her protégé Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest).
If you didn’t know better, you would easily assume that the story told in “I Care a Lot” was based on true events. The equally fast-paced and extremely biting retelling of fictional events is reminiscent of films such as “Molly’s Game” about the businesswoman Molly Bloom, who organizes illegal poker games, or the figure skater portrait “I, Tonya”. Both films – and with them various similar genre representatives – are characterized by a great personal closeness to the characters portrayed here, which stands in stark contrast to the deeds they committed. This conjures up a multi-layered fascination; both for the character itself and for the criminal career, in that one feeds the other. “I Care a Lot” quickly develops such a fascination in the first ten minutes of the film, when J Blakeson establishes the protagonist Marla Grayson as a tough fighter (or as she calls herself in the voice-over: lioness) who is already like her condescending counterpart radically confronted with its misogyny. Rosamund Pike (“Gone Girl – The Perfect Victim”), who has rarely been better since David Fincher’s thriller masterpiece and was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role in “I Care a Lot”, conceals her highly criminal energies not only with enormous self-confidence, but also with feminist fighting spirit. At first it doesn’t matter at all what terrible things the senior carer with a perfectly straight short haircut has already committed – when Marla resorts to a round-the-clock attack that exposes sexism, the contempt for her actions takes a back seat.
“Rosamund Pike, who has rarely been better since “Gone Girl” and was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role in “I Care a Lot,” conceals her highly criminal energies not only with enormous self-confidence, but also with feminist fighting spirit.”
Nevertheless, the fascination evoked is limited to the first ten minutes of “I Care a Lot” – shortly afterwards the film gives us an all-encompassing insight into the meticulously timed mechanisms behind Marla’s success as a fraudster who fleeces her aging protégés. This does not mean that the recognition for her extroverted, self-confident demeanor is evaporated, but it does take a hit because “I Care a Lot” is not the portrait of a feminist rebel, but of an unscrupulous criminal who, with an iron smile, turns senior citizens into those in need of care explains, puts them up in retirement homes and then takes their assets. The more intensively J Blakeson examines the well-oiled processes, in which not only her own employees but also non-professional helpers such as a doctor are involved, the more uncomfortable you become as a viewer in Marla Grayson’s presence – especially because you can’t shake the feeling , that no one in “I Care a Lot” can sleep better and more peacefully than they do at the end of the day. This makes it all the more regrettable that one can write about the person behind the business woman facade learns little. The relationship between Marla and her friend Fran doesn’t seem very mature, as she only seems to play a role when she is necessary for the story to progress. And as fascinating as it may be to watch a woman “with the self-confidence of a shark,” the lack of weaknesses makes her unapproachable. Marla Grayson is simply a woman you don’t want to mess with – that’s useful for the tone of the film and sets its ice-cold atmosphere, but for more depth it needed humanity, which “I Care a Lot” unfortunately can’t provide .
Rukov (Peter Dinklage) doesn’t let the butter be taken out of his bread or the straw taken out of his shake…
However, as soon as it becomes apparent that “I Care a Lot” is running out of steam early on due to a lack of emotional involvement, J Blakeson changes the narrative focus. A story about the fascinating and obnoxious Marla Grayson becomes a crime thriller in which Marla one (although supporting) but no longer the only role plays. Nevertheless, one has to accept that the focus moves away from her own criminal activities and even paints her as a kind of victim at times, before any boundaries between good and evil finally dissolve in “I Care a Lot”. While Blakeson maintains the high pace of his film, he shifts the focus to a genre-conforming cat-and-mouse game between Marla and the mafia with “Game of Thrones” star Peter Dinklage as the decidedly whimsical leader, for which the actual premise is one A nursing agency based on criminal energies will no longer be relevant at some point. A downer that Blakeson can largely make up for with the production itself. Cinematographer Doug Emmet (“The Wedding of Our Biggest Friend”) follows Marla, who is always on the move at high speed, never stays in one place for long without losing an overview and delights in the equally colorful and clean backdrops, in which everything always seems to be in its intended place. When it comes to her production, J Blakeson leaves nothing to chance – just as she doesn’t leave the protagonist herself.
“While Blakeson maintains the fast pace of his film, he shifts the focus to a genre-conforming cat-and-mouse game between Marla and the mafia with “Game of Thrones” star Peter Dinklage as the decidedly whimsical leader, for which the actual premise is one At some point, a care agency based on criminal energies will hardly play a role anymore.”
This has found its ideal cast in Rosamund Pike. The Brit, who was already cast for her leading role in “Marie Curie – Elements of Life” because of her intelligence, does not just show her cold-blooded side in “I Care a Lot”. Her broad-chested display of superiority is fundamentally a result of her mental strength: As soon as Marla enters a room, she is the smartest person in the room and therefore even more dangerous. All the more courageous is J Blakeson’s decision to end “I Care a Lot” with a belligerent bang, which at first appears to be a lack of courage towards his main character, but upon closer inspection straightens out the moral compass that his Marla had previously so cleverly set for herself knew how to capture.
Conclusion: The fascinating story of a cold-blooded woman – with “I Care a Lot” J Blakeson succeeds in creating a murderously entertaining portrait of a criminal that doesn’t stir up any false sympathies. Nevertheless, the somewhat more generic second half with its typical thriller developments falls short compared to the first, which is entirely about Marla Grayson and her perfidious machinations.
“I Care a Lot” will be available to stream on Netflix starting February 19th.