Netflix’s “I Care A Lot” hits funny, sad tone
By Mariah Brown
Assitant Online Editor
The Netflix original film, "I Care A Lot", is a comedic mystery thriller, written and directed by J Blakeson. The film jumped to the Top 10 section of the streaming platform, and created quite the buzz. Critics have called it "shockingly funny," "wildly entertaining" and a "searing swipe at late-stage capitalism."
The film was made by Black Bear Productions. Budgets can range between $5 million to $50 million on the high end, though most productions fall in the $15 million to $30 million space.
"I Care a Lot" takes a look at the issue of elderly abuse. The first 30 minutes of the film makes it seem as if the film is more serious and darker than it is. But, it takes a turn and has you sitting on the edge of your seats.
The action follows Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike), who has devised a terrible legal scam. She bribes medical professionals to declare elderly people legally unfit to look after themselves and then fools judges into appointing her as their legal guardian.
Once Grayson becomes their guardian, she puts them in nursing homes against their will, and immediately begins liquidating their assets to pay herself.
Marla lives well, drives nice cars, has a sharp bob that screams "BUSINESS" and wears statement suits. She and her business partner and lover Fran (Eiza Gonzalez) are the picture of Bonnie and Clyde--in a legal-conning-way.
But, the scam soon takes a turn for the worse when a doctor played by Alicia Witt helps her land an older woman, who appears to be extremely rich and has no family. Marla thinks she has hit the jackpot after she is appointed to represent Jennifer ( Dianne Wiest). But, Jennifer is not who she says she is. We soon find out that she is connected to the Russian Mafia, which is led by powerful crime boss Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage).
The start of "I Care A Lot" even goes to great lengths to depict the nature and reach of Marla's sly operation: She has an office with an assistant who will validate your parking, a big wall of victims currently in her "care," and nursing home directors who listen to her. She has all the appearances of respectability in her field, and this itself is enough of a reach to the system she manipulates.
About 30 minutes into the film, Mafia leader Roman Lunyov finds out that Jennifer has been taken away from her home and now under legal guardianship of Marla. Roman goes to great lengths to help Jennifer escape the nursing home, but fails, thanks to Marla and Fran, and begins to target the both of them next.
Throughout the film, writer Blakeson allows the audience to dislike Grayson for her actions, but then root for her during other moments as well, especially when she narrates certain parts of the story.
Although this film was on Netflix's Top 10, it premiered at a troublesome time--in the middle of a global pandemic that has exposed the neglect of elderly abuse today. It also premiered a couple of weeks after a documentary on Britney Spears' conservatorship sparked calls for a reckoning about the ways the current system takes power from people with disabilities.
This film can't help but be in a conversation with those issues at a time when taking the topic head-on has an added urgency to it. And to that end, when "I Care a Lot" comes to speak, it ultimately has little to say. Its first act does well to expose the depths of the issue and sets up a promising showcase of the failures of the state to protect older people. But then - nothing. The film takes a turn to the Crimeboss, Russian Mafia, and Marla fighting to save her terrible business. If the film itself doesn't stick to the original initial issue, then why should viewers even care at all?
Mariah Brown is a mass communications major and blogger.