Another recommendation by one not titled as “myself.” I Care a Lot features one Rosamund Pike, whom I’ve heard nothing but adoring praise for, in a role that promises to be rather ruthless. Undoubtedly, many who view this will be asking the age-old “Can I like despicable characters?” question concerning fictional media. Is there a moral? Should there be?
No answers are provided here. Sit back and enjoy the ride.
“A court-appointed legal guardian defrauds her older clients and traps them under her care. But her latest mark comes with some unexpected baggage.”
There is a tone in certain works that (unsurprisingly) cause some divisiveness with viewers. This tone, which for ease of clarity I’ll henceforth refer to as “snarky,” permeates the beginning and end of this film. A sort of immoral, indomitable aura that situates the viewer into a headspace of conflicting desires. What is it, exactly, that I’m watching? How should I watch this?
Some call this satirical. That probably works; much of this is exaggerated and far too convenient to make sense in reality (I hope). How much of it is satire? Where is the line drawn, and what can we, as viewers, take from the contents provided?
Pike’s character is absolutely evil. She knows she’s evil, yet displays common traits of the hero in a story trying to get out of an uncontrollable situation—or rather, trying to keep together an uncontrollable situation. Is it wrong to empathize with her at points in the film, knowing what she does to those who cannot fight back? An opening voiceover sets the tone immediately: “I am a fucking lioness.”
To this end, most of the film is simply enjoying the process of escalating tensions and stakes. It’s not so much about the characters as people as they are as pieces in a larger game of chess between two “predators.” A back and forth all-out brawl between two people dedicated to beating out the other. This is sufficiently enjoyable to some extent. I just can’t help but think…
This is basically Uncut Gems but hammier. Whereas the former has a character clearly on the cusp of failure, desperately scraping every opportunity to turn things around, the latter never yields. Pike’s character is always the head honcho of her own situation, try as others far more dangerous may. The entertainment factor thus becomes whether she can really lose, even as the odds become more unlikely. Both films even end basically the same.
Again, this is “hammier.” Things are more stunted, more artificial in their positioning that may or may not wither under pressure. What Uncut Gems does quite well is keep one immersed in a pretty reasonable vision of reality. I Care a Lot seems more focused on the big swings, events that are sure to cause a stir but would also have many going, “Okay, hold on a second.”
Squint-worthy script aside, the performers are fairly good in most respects. Rosamund Pike, as advertised, is terrific. Those eyes, that hair, her smile—picturesque in the way it breaks down defenses as her tongue hurls sturdy logic to sway those who come across her. And it’s because she’s so good that I even had to wonder if she was worth empathizing with. I believe she cares about those she cares about; how about that, she ain’t completely apathetic and self-preserving!
Where the film shines is presenting a back-and-forth between two rivals. The entire scenario is one big fight between “lions” or “predators.” People who are used to getting what they want no matter the means. Steel-willed determination and a scrupulous effort to maintain their “empires,” whatever they may consist of. Also a little bit of “girl power,” which the film sprinkles in at various intervals, including a very obvious exchange where a male character seems aggravated that he was corrected over the gender of a doctor.
I guess if you wish for something of a recommendation, file this under “Uncut Gems enthusiasts wanting more after clearing the Safdie brothers’ catalog.” It won’t quite compare, though it should at least alleviate the itch for a decent while. If not that, maybe you just want to see Pike be good at acting? That would definitely relieve some thirst. That phrasing was intentional.
Final Score: 6/10
The rating for all other films can be found at Letterboxd.
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Thank you for your time. Have a great rest of your day.