TIFF Review: 'I Care a Lot' Is Heartless and Horrible — in the Best Way Directed by J Blakeson

Rosamund Pike, Eiza González, Peter Dinklage, Dianne Wiest, Alicia Witt
TIFF Review: 'I Care a Lot' Is Heartless and Horrible — in the Best Way Directed by J Blakeson
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"Look at you," begins a narration by Rosamund Pike at the opening of I Care a Lot. She tells us we're not good people because there's no such thing. "Playing fair is a joke invented by rich people to keep the rest of us poor," and being poor doesn't agree with her.

Tapping into Amy Dunne in a role that's her best since Gone Girl, Pike plays Marla Grayson. She's a well-respected, court-appointed guardian to the elderly. She works with Fran (Eiza González), her partner in life and in crime, and they collude with a doctor (Alicia Witt) on cases to game the system: picking out the best from the bunch, faking their medical reports, and shucking them in a care home against their will. To them, vulnerable seniors are seen as cash cows, and it's alarming how excited Marla gets milking them. Their next victim is Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest). On the surface, she's presented as just your regular old lady (with the bonus of being rich). But Jennifer is the worst mistake she'll ever make: unbeknownst to Marla, Jennifer's son (Peter Dinklage) is a crime lord. He'll do everything he can to free his mother from the deceitful care these crooks, but Marla won't make that easy.

Writer-director J Blakeson's stylish, sardonic thriller is a downright heartless film about horrible people doing horrible things to each other. It's campy, darkly funny, and a total blast. The film's subject is very unpleasant but very real, and its tone takes this topic seriously with an excellent balance of humour that's executed smoothly. Pike plays the fascinating role of a ruthless, fiery lioness who's ready to grab men by the balls. She's a flawed, immoral character with frightening determination as she schemes and manipulates everyone around her. Not often do we get pleasure in watching someone so nasty, and Pike is impeccable and hilarious. She also shares steamy chemistry with her partner, González: just a crime-comitting gay couple whose relationship refreshingly never feels it needs to be discussed or validated, and if it weren't for their tender scenes together, we would think Marla was stone-cold through and through. Wiest plays a key role, but we come out wishing she had more to do. Chris Messina has a small part as an expensive-looking lawyer who tries to free Jennifer through legal means. Then, of course, there's Dinklage who's intimidating and resolute as the crime lord.

I Care a Lot not only confronts the mistreatment of the elderly, but it's also a film about the villainous people who run big corporations and how they'll all get what's coming to them in the end. (Elevation)