Streamer: Amazon Prime Video
Length: 118 minutes
One of the great things about good black comedy is its willingness to “go there” in terms of troubling or controversial subject matter. While a straight drama might wilt in fear of societal backlash, your black comedy film will embrace it and hook right in.
Heathers (1989) tackled teenage suicide, Trainspotting (1996) dealt with heroin addiction and Fight Club (1999) dissected toxic masculinity long before it was cool.
Point is, no topic is off the table when it comes to black comedy. So, when we tell you that I Care a Lot is, broadly speaking, about elder abuse, know that’s not the reason we didn’t like it. In fact, the best parts of director J Blakeson’s flick revolve around that grim topic.
No, the reason this particular black comedy didn’t resonate with us, is because it just doesn’t seem to know what it is.
I Care a Lot tells the tawdry tale of Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike), an icy-veined con woman who makes a living preying on the elderly. Her particular grift involves using legal trickery to make herself the guardian of a senior citizen, then moving them to a care home, flogging their house and valuables and pocketing the dosh for herself.
She’s, uh, pretty much the worst, hey.
One day, Marla sets her sights on the apparently family-free Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest), who is wealthy and independent. Before long, Jennifer’s been shoved into a home and is heavily sedated.
However, it seems Marla has bitten off more than she can chew this time. See, Jennifer does have some family after all. Point of fact, she’s the mother of Russian mob boss, Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage) and the tables are about to be rather violently turned.
If all of that sounds amazing to you, then you’re absolutely right. The set up of I Care a Lot is a total winner. The idea of setting Gone Girl against everyone’s favourite Lannister would seem to write itself. Unfortunately, Blakeson’s skill with direction doesn’t quite hold true with his writing and the result is an unwieldy, inconsistent script that can’t seem to find its tone.
For a while, it looks like Dianne Wiest is going to have a nice meaty role but then she just vanishes for most of the film. At first it seems Roman is going to be a great villain… and then he just ends up being comically inept. And Marla’s level of skill and adaptability veers wildly from moment to moment, literally changing for the sake of the latest unlikely plot contrivance.
It’s a bummer too, because Rosamund Pike is so damn good in this role! Her mercurial, sociopathic vibe is thrilling to watch but it never really goes anywhere. Peter Dinklage is similarly saddled with a nothing character and is such an inept gangster you have to wonder how on Earth he lasted more than seven seconds in the Russian mob.
Worse still, the great social commentary from the start of the film is essentially absent for the remainder of the hefty runtime, only reappearing in the third act and doing so in a rather perfunctory way. Instead we get the goofy ‘invincible Marla vs. the mob’ story, which is just not particularly engaging.
I Care a Lot comes on strong with a fantastic premise, stellar cast and stylish direction. However, it soon becomes clear that the black comedy is a paper tiger, with little to say beyond the very obvious.
And frankly, other than Rosamund Pike, there’s little to care about in this overlong misfire.
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