In media, anti-heroes are usually men, like Don Draper and Walter White. I Care A Lot tries to subvert this by making the anti-hero a woman. While this idea sounds great, the film does not develop its lead beyond being a woman; it does nothing to address the cruelty of the protagonist’s actions, which leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
I Care A Lot follows the story of grifter Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike) who steals money with her girlfriend Fran (Eiza Gonzales) from old people that fall under her guardianship. They set their sights on Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest), a rich old lady seemingly with no relatives. Trouble starts to emerge when Marla realizes that Jennifer is not the lonely retired businesswoman they thought she was.
This film did a lot of genre-bending, but it was fun to watch. The direction and pacing of action sequences were paced well, and Rosamund’s acting was topnotch. The whole experience was cathartic to watch.
That said, the film did try to juggle too many aspects, struggling to stick to one thing clearly. It tried to be a commentary on feminism and capitalism while being a fun action flick, but the former feels murky to me since it did not establish any clear morals or stances. It seems the writer could not figure out if it was ‘feminist’ to have its female anti-hero succeed or fail then chose to do both things at once. The messaging here looks bad no matter where I slice it: do evil women deserve to be traumatized by men? Do grifters need to be killed off? Is sexism okay when women are evil? It just feels that none of these characters are worth rooting for or worth analyzing further.
I Care A Lot’s themes are overly ambitious and were not integrated well into the light-hearted action flick it wanted to be. The result is similar to a serious person trying desperately to be the fun mom. This contradiction makes the whole film hard to understand, not because it’s complex but because it does not know what it is.
I Care A Lot is streaming on Netflix.