At the Movies with Alan Gekko: I Care A Lot “2021”

At the Movies with Alan Gekko: I Care A Lot “2021”

MPAA Rating: R/Genre: Dark Comedy Thriller/ Stars: Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eiza González, Chris Messina, Dianne Wiest, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Macon Blair, Alicia Witt, Damian Young/Runtime: 118 minutes

I think it is safe to start this review off by asking you an unusual question dear reader: in your opinion does a film need to possess a cast of characters who are likable in some way in order to succeed? I mean it is quite the intriguing conundrum. I mean one most assuredly would have quite the uphill battle ahead of them should they try to argue that they aren’t needed seeing as likable characters do have the ability to keep you, the viewer engaged even when you might not be gelling as much with a slice of cinematic pie’s narrative. At the same time, having no likeable characters is also a method that audiences can utilize to slap a “terrible” label on something seeing as there is quite a few horrible movies where a despicable protagonist is clearly a main dilemma that is detrimental to its overall success. Yet the question still remains: is it impossible to make a genuinely good slice of cinematic pie filled to the brim with despicable people? Well dear reader the answer is nope and if you want proof then may I humbly submit the slice of cinematic pie I am reviewing today: I Care A Lot. Indeed here is a slice of cinematic pie filled to the brim by and large with people whose souls rotted a long time ago and who are most assuredly going to fill a VIP table all by themselves in the fiery pits of Hell with not a degree of anything to redeem them to be found and yet the level of despicability on display is truly intriguing. Indeed the motivating force this cynical movie seems to operate on is that the most potent tool against someone or something despicable is someone or something even more despicable and the hunter/hunted match that emerges is one that is wonderfully visceral and jagged in the best way possible. Indeed even with the knowledge that a twist in these proceedings is sure to come up at some point (due to the distinct subgenre it is a part of), it still is ably to delightfully surprise you in the best way possible. Thus when you pair this despicable narrative with truly ruthless performances from Rosamund Pike (in a role that feels like a sister to the character of Amy from Gone Girl) and an electric group of co-stars, what you get is a truly riveting narrative that might not be for everyone, but is riveting and engaging for those who can be right at home with its wickedness.

The plot is as follows: I Care A Lot tells us the story of a despicable sort by the name of Marla Grayson. Miss Grayson, we quickly are able to pick up on, is a morally void, ice queen of a capitalist who, for a while now, has managed to succeed in the operating of a truly vile scheme right under the nose of the law. A scheme that involves our ice queen protagonist claiming to work as a medically appointed “guardian”, but in reality sees her seeking out helpless people of a certain age and persuading a judge that they cannot take care of themselves anymore. Once done, she then promptly places them in a nursing home operated by a friend of hers where she then proceeds to leach off of them all that they own. To that end, we see that Miss Grayson has managed to put together an entire business devoted to this that she co-runs with her partner Fran. To that end, we see that when one of our despicable duo’s latest marks unexpectedly passes on to the Great Hereafter, they find themselves in desperate need of an individual to fill this unexpected vacancy. To that end, we see that with the aid of a shady doctor pal, our duo is able to locate someone who might be the best mark they’ve had in a while in the form of a recently retired corporate type who lives a solitary lifestyle and seemingly has no family left in the world by the name of Jennifer Peterson. Thus, we witness as an emergency hearing gets underway and in a short amount of time Miss Peterson is declared to be placed under Miss Grayson’s “care” swiftly and promptly…..which also sees her placed in retirement hell, the key conveniently misplaced, and her stuff swiftly making its way out her front door. Yet before too long, our icy heroine begins to get the vibe that something isn’t quite right with this mark; a feeling that is shortly verified by both the reveal of a bag of diamonds that she doesn’t have claimed anywhere and a mysterious man showing up to come get the old girl during the renovation of her estate. Of course, it should come as no surprise to learn that it isn’t long before our ice queens come to see that their prey is not exactly who she first appeared to be and that their blinding greed and ego has placed them on a collision course with someone who has the ability to put everything in their lives in great peril….

Now it should be said that even the casual movie goer is not unfamiliar with slices of cinematic pie that have leads who aren’t exactly the most moral in the world, but usually what a film will do is give these people some degree of a conscience that either tugs at them and/or balances them out so they’re not as repulsive as everyone else. I guess then that what makes this movie so astonishing since it really doesn’t give that security blanket, nor does it desire to do so to begin with, to those who watch it. Indeed our main character really doesn’t have any backstory to help us empathize with how ruthless she is beyond stating she grew up with no money to her name and has no desire to be at that state again. Other than that, our main character’s motivation for what she does is due to horrendous greed and because she is able to get away with it. Thus with no legal authority to defy or even deter her, we as movie goers are left to see if the universe is able to mete out some form or another of “karmic justice” and as for if this occurs or not I shall not tell you. All I will say is that the people that are associated with her latest mark aren’t exactly inspired by the Salvation Army. As a result, an intriguing dilemma within the viewer is set up because you won’t want either side in this squabble to come out the victor, but rather that they eat each other alive and neither side is left standing due to how despicable they both are. Now I know this is quite the unpleasing vibe for a slice of cinematic pie to bring out, but darn it all if it is not truly potent and able to make for a truly riveting viewing experience. Now whilst things do get pitch black in this film, I think it should also be said that a key ingredient that helps this movie feel as ice cold as it gets is because of all the brightness within it. Indeed this ruthless scheme of our ice queen heroine is not one that is done at night, but rather in blindingly illuminated courtrooms and nursing homes. As a result, this film chooses to immerse us face first in it courtesy of huge windows, ultra-bright light, and blinding color choices. Yes as the impending peril from the mark’s associates carries on, the aesthetic this slice of cinematic pie is blessed with does evolve with it, and there are moments (again, no spoilers) that make impressive use of consuming darkness. Yet nevertheless the color on display in this movie is not just potent, but also engaging and exasperating in the ways that it is supposed to be and then some.

Now whilst engaged in the act of viewing this distinct slice of cinematic pie, I honestly couldn’t help my mind from going back to the time-honored opinion that a lot of thespians seem to share about it being a whole lot more fun to play a film’s antagonist since not only is everyone in this a villain of some shade or fashion, but also because everyone involved is easily enjoying themselves in the process. Indeed we get wonderful work herein from Peter Dinklage who has a subtle temper operating as sort of a under the surface fixture to his role in this that manages to be both riveting and slightly terrifying. It’s also astonishing to witness the moment where Dianne Wiest finally shows that she is more than just naïve innocent and in the process unleashing one of the better twisted laughs I’ve heard in a movie in a while. Also deserving of praise for their work in this is Chris Messina as the lawyer who is “requested” to represent Miss Peterson. No it doesn’t have a lot of screen time in this, but Messina gives the guy such an arrogance and casual menace that you won’t be able to stop yourself from uttering “damn” following a scene between him and Marla in her office. Yet with all of that being said, it should be noted that this is Rosamund Pike’s film through and through. Indeed the iciness she showcases quite regularly in this is truly astonishing and reprehensible, but it is also so on the level and showcased through equal parts e-cig vapor, sly deception, and devious smiles that it will make your stomach turn just thinking back on it. Plus it is also quite unnerving to witness the drive and dogged determination that the performer inserts into this character also makes you admire the character to an extent even IF that admiration is usually scrubbed off when you see just what fathoms of despicability the character chooses to plunder.

All in all I think it is a relatively safe bet to make that people’s individual measures of enjoyment will always be different when it comes to a slice of cinematic pie that has a narrative which deals with a nefarious individual doing terrible things to other people that are just as nefarious as they if not more so. With that in mind, it should be noted that the slice of cinematic pie that is I Care A Lot is an infinitely leaps and bounds more gonzo take on that approach than what it usually showcased for movie viewers. Yes it is most certainly a slice of cinematic pie that politely yet firmly demands the viewer to be able to stomach cynicism that is darker than any that even this humble writer could present you with to say nothing of being able to respect having your guide through all this madness be an absolute sadist, but if you are someone who can handle these things then you will most assuredly find yourself not only really enjoying this distinct movie, but also continuing to ponder on long after your viewing is over and the credits begin to roll….On a scale of 1-5 I give I Care A Lot a solid 4 out of 5.