Great film, not so great messaging
I didn’t know that I Care A Lot was coming; that color-blocked poster unexpectedly hit me square in the face one weekend, and I knew I was going to be busy that same afternoon. It was Rosamund Pike in what seemed to be a very Gone Girl-esque craziness that I was all too eager to get behind.
In I Care A Lot, Pike is Marla Grayson, a con artist who makes a living by playing the legal system. She preys on elderly individuals and convinces the court to grant her legal guardianship. When the ink on the court documents has dried, she places them in different care facilities, where they’re locked from the outside world. To reward herself for caring so much for these elderlies, she sells off their homes, their assets, zeroes out their bank accounts and pockets the change.
With doctors to back her up and a judge that listens to everything she says, it’s a plan hatched in evil genius hell. But when she becomes the legal guardian of a woman with powerful connections, hell turns its back on her.
Warning: minor spoilers ahead.
I cannot say anything about the film; it’s a great one that’s well worth a watch. The script, the casting, the story, the direction—there are no hard complaints. If anything, it would be the questionable probability of a normal woman facing off with the intelligence and capital and manpower of a mob. But anyway, I’m here to talk about Marla.
Marla Grayson, the woman who admits:
I’m no a lamb.
I’m a fucking lioness.
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To anyone that says we need more female villains who rely on something more than their physical appeal, I’m with you. For decades, movie makers have relied on a woman’s looks or body, or both to sell her agenda. And in this regard, Marla Grayson is a breath of fresh air. She is intelligent and cunning and fearless, and Pike only takes her clothes off when she falls into a river and finds her way into a convenience store that conveniently sells sweaters. She still looks pretty damn good though.
But here’s why I’m not sold on the entirety of Marla Grayson: I don’t see enough of her.
Other than her relentless ambition, her go-hard attitude and her razor-sharp bob, I know nothing about her. I don’t know why she will stop at nothing to get rich, why she’s so coldhearted to the elderly people under her legal care or why she ended up a con artist. There are no flashbacks, no look into her past other than a quick moment wherein Marla calls her mom a psychotic bitch. As compelling a villain as she is and as Golden Globe-worthy Pike’s performance was, Marla is a one-dimensional character.
Maybe it’s asking for too much, but the villainess of my dreams is more than her badassery. She has overcome her past, and that’s why she’s running towards a future she refuses to let go of. Her drive is more than a quick and muted sex scene. She has compassion somewhere inside her, for someone, for herself. And in the end, I want to see her succeed. I want to revel in it and celebrate and cheer because I have no other choice but to choose her side. But I do not choose Marla Grayson.
There is respect, but no fondness for this one.
Stream I Care A Lot on Netflix; let us know what you think.
Art Alexandra Lara