comedy Crime Thriller

I Care a Lot

Rosamund Pike electrifies as a con artist who doesn’t respect the elders.

Rosamund Pike gives the most sinister performance since “Gone Girl” in “I Care a Lot,” a dark comedy that deals with a rigged care facility much more effectively than “Body Brokers.”

This time, the story is set in a retirement home, where they swindle rich elderly people of their money, heirlooms, and homes, and they lock out anyone closest to him/her. Pike is Marla Grayson, who poses as a kind guardian, when really she’s an evil woman, who has the world on a string. You can tell by the way she’s almost always smiling, and how she deceives the judge (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.) into believing the old folks are mentally unstable. You despise this woman (and I’m glad she never took my grandparents), and yet, you admire Pike’s performance in the ways she digs deep inside the character.

She tells the elderly and their spouses that she really cares for them (hence the title: “I Care a Lot”), but she believes in the philosophy that she is the predator and the oldies are the prey. Her latest victim goes by the name of Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest), and Marla and her associate/lover Fran (Eiza Gonzalez) are both thrilled at the millions they’ll make off of her. Little do they know Jennifer is not whom she appears to be. That’s why a Russian mobster named Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage) intends to free her, and does everything in his power to persuade Marla to do so.

This woman refuses to lose this battle, and she’s so consumed by this power that when Roman threatens to kill her mother, she says: “kill that sociopath.” The only thing that makes her less evil is when she worries about the safety of her lover, who has more of a conscience than her.

Writer/director J. Blakeson (“The 5th Wave”) fully delivers on the set-up by creating a hustler more conniving than the Frank Grillo character in “Body Brokers,” and by fully delving into the corruption of its money game. From start to finish, you’re infuriated with how this particular system is broken, and simultaneously, you’re enjoying the pure drama that emerges and the humor that creeps up on you. It represents its own con game on a different level-one that has never been done before. Apparently, these people don’t respect their elders, and that’s what makes the screenplay so provocative and original.

I’ve already singled out Pike’s performance (and so far, she’s been nominated a Golden Globe for her role), but I also praise Gonzalez, Dinklage, Wiest, and Chris Messina (as Jennifer’s lawyer) for expanding on their characters, and rising to the occasion. They use their words wisely, and make their ambitions stronger. And Pike connects with all of them on tremendous levels.

Movies like “Hustlers” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” are fun when they know their routine and play their cards right, for the most part, and “I Care a Lot” ranks with those recent examples. And the results of the consequences prove they represent real life. Keep your grandparents away from this woman, but see her on your Netflix account for all the right and wrong reasons I’ve mentioned.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4.

Streaming on Netflix

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