A movie where perspective can change perception.
There’s a definitive moment for Rosamund Pike’s character Marla in I Care A Lot that tells you everything you need to know about her tenacity. Sitting across from her girlfriend, played by Eiza González, she has to decide between taking a bribe and walking away from what she does best or stay and fight.
“You know how many times I’ve been threatened by a man? Thousands. You know how many ever came to anything? Two. He makes threats because threats are all he had left. You can’t convince a woman to do what they want, you call her a bitch and threaten to kill her. I’m not scared of him.”
Pike is nominated for a Golden Globe for this role.
I Care A Lot from director J Blakeson, who also wrote the screenplay, is now streaming on Netflix and is a stirring thriller that shines a light on the systemic ableism of the healthcare industry in a compelling way: from the perspective of a villain.
Marla is pursuing her American dream, albeit shadily. She preys on the elderly, convincing judges to appoint her guardianship over their own life and wealth. Her latest “cherry” is played by the great Dianne Wiest, who happens to be connected to some very scary people. But Marla gives no fucks.
“She’s just extremely ambitious,” Blakeson told No Film School in a phone call. “I haven’t seen that many movies where there was a female protagonist who is fearless and ambitious as she is without her being a femme fatale. She doesn’t use her sexuality to get what she wants. She just uses her brains and ambition.”
It’s a theme in many beloved gangster films like The Godfather and Goodfellas—men going after what they want no matter the cost. With I Care A Lot, Blakeson cleverly spins the idea through a new lens with convincing authenticity—leaving you to wonder if the other shoe will ever drop on Marla.
“With her, you’re waiting to see if she would learn her lesson or meet her match and get scared. But I never wanted that to happen, even if it kills her,” Blakeson said. “It’s hard not to admire that and at the same time not be horrified by it. I found that really interesting when writing the script. And the way Rosamund plays it by outwitting people all the time and having fun doing it—it’s that joy of being really good at something that draws you in.”
The idea for the movie struck Blakeson when he was reading a news story about the real-life versions of predatory guardians.
“It was horrifying. You start imagining it, someone knocking on your door and saying, 'You have to come with us.' It is horrible that this faceless authority can take you away and there’s nothing you can do about it. That jammed into my brain like a splinter and festered for a while.”
But the director didn’t want to tell the story from the victim’s perspective, as “that story is so bleak.” By flipping the perspective, we get to experience the calamity of industrialized care in the same vein The Wolf of Wall Street teaches us about the stock market or how The Big Short unraveled the housing crisis.
“One of my favorite films of all time is Dr. Strangelove, which takes the most terrible, horrible scary things in the world and doesn’t make light of them, but shows how absurd and ridiculous it is by exposing the systemic corruption and our complicity of things that we accept is fine,” Blakeson said. “With this film, it’s about these systems that are brought up where anyone is vulnerable, and instead of a community supporting them, there’s an industry built up to exploit them. I wanted to discuss those ideas, but do it in a way that is an entertaining film to watch.”