In recent memory we have witnessed great products of cinema and television where the main character is a morally corrupt being that does not evoke a single drop of empathy. I’m not referring to the characters that fall from grace in a complex evolving narrative arc like Walter White or Thomas Shelby. Marla Grayson is so despicable that is able to step side by side with the likes of Frank Underwood, Howard Ratner or Cersei Lannister to name a few; providing the highest highs “I Care A Lot” manages to offer.
As the movie begins, Marla is instantly presented as a legal guardian that possesses a cunning mind and a silver tongue to present persuasive cases in front of a judge. Those cases involve elderly people that, according to a known doctor of hers, can no longer take care of themselves and must be supervised immediately by her. As a result of this standard procedure Marla inherits control of all their assets and makes sure she gets compensated for her services without breaking a single law.
These opening scenes where the spectator is able to follow how the main character unfolds during her daily routine are executed quite well. With each step it becomes more and more clear that there are almost no redeeming qualities to justify Marla’s behaviour as we see the way she takes on a seemingly innocent rich old lady through her horrific process. The effect of uneasiness J Blakeson manages to transmit with such effectiveness is not an easy one to achieve. Rosamund Pike sells every aspect of the character flawlessly; from the fake smiles to the sharp arguments in court, she leaves no doubt this film will be hers to command until the very end.
As true as her performance resonates throughout the entire movie, Pike shares the screen with a talented cast that is able to keep up with her talent in every scene. Special mention should go to Chris Messina, who plays a shady lawyer that is able to bounce off of Pike’s one liners expertly every time. The dialog delivery from darkly comedic to dangerously tense retains a constant level of entertainment that should be able to maintain viewers attention despite the lackluster development of the plot.
It is a shame that along the running time of the film, the initial idea of a crooked human trying to take advantage of others with the unsuspicious help of the system itself, ends up losing its strong and grounded thread. Even if the ending still comes back a bit to its original strengths, the direction that the story turns to, manages to remind the audience that all these horrible things are happening in a movie. As the plot gives more and more room and power to the main antagonist, it forgets that the real terror laid in Marla’s piercing look of comfort while she destroyed lives on her path to success. In the end, this piece of entertainment manages to create a strong and villainous femme fatale that probably won’t achieve the praise it deserves because of the smell that surrounds her. Smell of wasted potential.