Written and directed by J Blakeson, a crooked legal guardian who drains the savings of her elderly wards meets her match when a woman she tries to swindle turns out to be more than she first appears. Starring: Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eiza González, Dianne Wiest, Chris Messina, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Macon Blair, Alicia Witt and Damian Young.
Rosamund Pike will forever be known as Amy Dunne because of just how iconic her performance was in Gone Girl but since then she’s done cheesy movies, period pieces, voiceovers and biopics, no-one has thought to use the Amy skill set, until now. Obviously, you don’t always want to compare every role an actor does to their one most successful but in this case, the filmmakers were clever enough to capitalise on Fincher’s success. Thereby creating the ruthless and unshakeable Marla Grayson, who is infuriatingly clever and has an answer for everything, making for a great character to watch. It finally puts Pike into a role that she wears like a glove. It helps that she has a solid team of actors supporting: Dianne Wiest is brilliant, Peter Dinklage and Chris Messina get to step into darker roles to show again how good they both are at bringing a sinister edge in a sharp suit and Eiza González brings the best of both worlds, caring but cutthroat.
For the majority of the film where they stick to that slick game of cat and mouse it’s a fun ride, it has the sly, smug energy of a heist film and a quick wit. While that continues, there’s a slow but clear growing intensity that continually draws you in further, the stakes get higher and the risk gets more deadly. All of which is a list of top-notch ingredients for a film of this nature, the problem begins when it strays from the recipe. At a certain point, the risk fades and it segues into almost a romance, after building up how cold these characters are it tries to convince you that Marla and Fran (González) are actually in a genuinely loving relationship and it’s downhill from there. There is a chemistry between them but it’s nowhere near enough to pull off what they’re going for. It’s almost like a switch flips in the last 30-minutes and all that psyched up, cunning energy disappears and then it’s just going through the motions until it gets to a rather familiar ending that doesn’t have much new to add. Not to mention that at a certain point it seems to forget altogether that Jennifer (Wiest) exists, until she suits their purposes again.
The direction however is very consistent throughout, it keeps a tiny portion of that energy when the story starts to fade, even if it’s not enough to stand out. It feels as though it falls somewhere between Baby Driver and the Ocean’s franchise, with a little influence from Rian Johnson. It’s initially intoxicating with how seemingly unbeatable Marla is and how far they’re all willing to go to get what they want, which makes it all the more disappointing when it just peters out. Regardless of those issues, the costume work is undeniably good, it strikes a Blake Lively in A Simple Favor kind of vibe but more attainably fashionable. Although the hair work could be better, the extra frizzy, curly do that they give González earlier on makes it feel like they were trying to scream that her character is into women, or possibly that she loves the 70s.
I Care a Lot had so much potential, its trailer was energising in how new and fun this film felt but pulling that off for 3-minutes is much easier than 118 and it sadly falls short. It starts out with a unique, modern story and then slowly the stereotypical cracks become clear. We finally get some of that uber satisfying Amy Dunne energy from Rosamund Pike but the story takes her in a direction that loses its bite. It’s a tall order to keep that intensity and slightly wild-eyed, dangerous energy going for almost two hours and it wasn’t up to the challenge. It justifiably gets points for trying because if it could have kept up that sharp, biting tone of its first half, this would have been a stellar film.