FlixChatter Review: I CARE A LOT (2020)

When I first heard of this dark comedy, I was immediately intrigued by its casting of Rosamund Pike. I’ve seen her playing real-life heroines in her last two films, A Private War and Radioactive, that it’s actually quite a treat to see her playing a shamelessly devious character. Marla Grayson is a piece of work – a vision of killer beauty with her razor bob haircut and sharp pantsuits, matched only by her piercing ambition to stay on top. The VO in the beginning tells us she didn’t come from money, in fact she grew up poor and she’s determined never to be again. Her get-rich-quick-scheme involves cunning her way to be a legal guardian of elderly wards whose assets she immediately seizes to build her ‘care’ empire.

The film begins with a man who went berserk trying to visit his mother at a care facility. You can easily guess who the guy’s mother’s court-appointed legal guardian is. Marla runs her empire like a tight ship with her business/romantic partner Fran (Eiza González). Everything from knowing the legal loopholes to deceive the judge (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), meticulously researching the victims, to making sure the care facility is ‘prepared’ to receive its new guest–nothing gets by these professional schemers.

British writer/director J Blakeson creates the epitome of an evil protagonist we love to hate in Marla, but then again there are really no good guys in this film… only the bad and the tragic. As much as I despise what Marla and Fran are doing, I was also curious just how their well-oiled con game works. Well, soon they come across their latest ‘cherry’ with a rather bland name, Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest), a wealthy retired lady with a sizable nest egg plus a nice, big house to the bargain. Based on Fran’s research, she has no relative or next of kin which makes her a perfect target. Or so they thought. Someone who’s that too good to be true usually is. Little did they know their cherry has an equally dubious secret and ties to a Russian gangster Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage).

One of the main strengths of this film is the performances. Pike is superb as Marla Grayson. I dare say it’s a more indelible performance than Gone Girl that made her famous, as here she wasn’t over-shadowed by a famous leading man or director, able to own the role unapologetically. Clearly she relishes on portraying an icy evil queen, all poise and self-assured even when threatened. Her scenes with Dean (Chris Messina), a slick lawyer on Roman’s payroll, is quite a hoot as she simply refuse to back down. Marla is so evil you’d be inclined to side with the gangster!

The script really put all the talents to good use, even the supporting cast all brought their A-game. I’m not familiar with González, but she’s quite good here as Marla’s tomboy lover who in many ways is the voice of reason that often fall on deaf ears. Two-time Oscar winner Wiest also gets to flex her acting muscles in all her scenes with Pike, refusing to simply be a damsel in distress. Having the great Dinklage as a mobster seems like a pretty obvious choice, and he milks the role like nobody’s business. He provides a sense of menace while also being the comic relief so effortlessly. Last but not least, Macon Blair has a small role here but an important and unforgettable one.

One beef I have with this movie is some of the scenarios of the 2nd and 3rd act gets a bit too over-the-top and ludicrous for its own good. At some point my husband and I yelled ‘oh come on!!’ at the screen. It pushes way past incredulity point at times… I think grounding the film more would’ve made it more effective. The jab against profit-minded American health system is obvious here, somehow the system that’s supposed to help the weak and ailing senior citizens often capitalize on them. It made it SO easy for people like Marla to rob these poor unsuspecting souls while still staying very much within the boundary of the legal system. It’s downright sickening.

Blakeson’s script is filled with twists and turns and you’re never quite sure just who’d win in this all out war between these two nefarious pair. Naturally, many people feel that Marla ought to get her comeuppance and Blakeson toys with that very idea, only to pull the rug right from under us when we think it’s the end of the road for her. The ending made me go ‘whoa!!‘ It’s quite rare these days where a movie finale completely throw you for a loop, so I always cherish that when that happens!

So while it’s not a perfect movie, it’s one heck of a wild, thrilling ride and a stylish one. Costume designer Deborah Newhall designed the clothes to make a pronounced statement about each character and an enviable wardrobe for Pike’s character. Everything Marla wears screams ‘I’m a f*cking lioness,’ which is what she aspires to be. The dynamic score by Marc Canham is perfect for the tone of the movie and for Marla’s Type A personality, used with efficiency in her scenes at the gym, in her vigorous spinning class, etc.

Ultimately, I Care A Lot is a dynamic but also unnerving crime thriller that’s also a biting satire that celebrate sheer feminism. The emotional moments between Marla and Fran’s relationship is few and far between however, and not particularly believable. I think it’s mostly because Marla’s so driven to ‘never lose’ that it’s hard to imagine her caring about anything or anyone else. The scene involving her tooth is a prime example of how much she cares about her image. The title is appropriate here as the only thing she cares a lot is herself and winning. In an age of superhero movies, I suppose it’s refreshing to see a film about villains. I have to say this movie is not for everyone, but if you can stomach morally bankrupt characters and vile stench of a plot, it’s certainly entertaining.


Have you seen I CARE A LOT? Well, what did you think?

New Netflix Movies/Miniseries To Watch in February – Malcolm and Marie | I Care A lot | Red Dot | The Last Paradiso | Layla Majnun | Behind Her Eyes

There are SO many things to watch on Netflix that I always struggle to figure just WHAT to watch. Now, this is not a comprehensive list of ALL that’s coming to Netflix which includes older movies that’s been released before, i.e. The Bank Job, Inception, The Patriot, War Dogs, Captain Fantastic, etc. but these are NEW stuff from the streaming service, part of the 70 new original content Netflix promised to release in 2021. There’s an extra dose of romantic-themed content released in February because of Valentine’s Day, but there’s a comedy + thriller thrown in.

In any case, so here are 5 new movies + 1 limited series coming to Netflix this month:

Malcolm & Marie

Releases February 5 – read my review

A director and his girlfriend’s relationship is tested after they return home from his movie premiere and await critics’ responses.

One of the best things about TENET is John David Washington and I like Zendaya based on the two things I saw her in, The Greatest Showman and Spider-Man Far From Home. I haven’t seen her in Euphoria yet, which is created by the director of this film, Sam Levinson (who happens to be the son of Barry Levinson who won an Oscar directing Rain Man).

Some of you might have seen this by now as it was released last Friday. Let me know what you think if you have seen it!


The Last Paradiso (L’ultimo paradiso)

Releases February 5, 2021

In 1950s Italy, a passionate free spirit dreams of love, justice and a better life till a forbidden affair threatens everything. Based on real events.

Of course seeing the title reminds me right away of Cinema Paradiso, one of my all-time favorite non-English language films. This one is also a love story, a forbidden affair no less, that’s based on a true story. I recognized the lead actor Riccardo Scamarcio from John Wick 2, he’s got such an intense stare that’s hard to forget. I’m down to be swept away to the South Italy’s countryside for a couple of hours. Love, passion, rebellion… hopefully would make a memorable drama.


Red Dot

Releases February 11, 2021

When Nadja becomes pregnant, they make an attempt to rekindle their relationship by traveling to the north of Sweden for a hiking trip but soon their romantic trip turns into a nightmare.

I’ve enjoyed quite a few Nordic thrillers, such as The Hunt, Headhunters, though I should watch more. Scandinavian filmmakers sure know how to make effective noirs. This one comes from Swedish filmmaker Alain Darborg, and it has that ominous, atmospheric vibe to it.


Layla Majnun

Releases February 11, 2021

While in Azerbaijan, Layla, an Indonesian scholar, falls for Samir, an admirer of her work — but her arranged marriage stands in the way.

I rarely blog about Indonesian movies (despite the fact that my late dad used to work in the Indo film industry), but this one caught my eye. I’m not familiar w/ any of the cast but the setting in Azerbaijan and the familiar-yet-still-enticing forbidden love story sounds like a perfect one to watch around V-day.

I Care A Lot

Releases February 19, 2021

A shady legal guardian lands in hot water when she tries to bilk a woman who has ties to a powerful gangster.

I’m intrigued just reading the description and the cast: Rosamund Pike, Eiza González, Dianne Wiest, Peter Dinklage.I love Rosamund Pike and it’s nice to see her in a dark comedy, playing a shady character no less. This film premiered at TIFF and currently has a 93% Rotten Tomatoes rating, praising Pike’s a wicked performance. Can’t wait!


Behind Her Eyes (miniseries)

Releases February 17, 2021

A single mom becomes entangled in a twisted mind game when she begins an affair with her psychiatrist boss while bonding with his mysterious wife.

Want a bit of twist with your Valentine romance? How about a psycho-sexual thriller with a good looking UK cast? I’m a huge fan of Tom Bateman who’s the epitome of tall, dark & handsome and also super talented. I’ve just seen Eve Hewson in Tesla and really like her, looking forward to seeing the love triangle between these two and Simona Brown.

The miniseries is produced by Left Bank Pictures, the production company behind the prestigious drama The Crown.


What do you think of these two movies?