Netflix’s new film I Care A Lot is about the worst nightmare that could happen to vulnerable senior citizens. Writer and director J Blakeson delivers a slick, stylish film that will make the blood of sons and daughters with elderly parents boil.
Rosamund Pike delivers an amazing performance as Marla Grayson, a tough as nails court appointed legal guardian who bilks her clients of their life savings, homes, and belongings as she vapes her way through the day. Her accomplice/lover Fran (Eiza Gonzalez) assists her in this scam along with doctors and nurses in the nursing home.
Once they are taken to the nursing home, the targets are drugged and kept from contacting the outside world. Marla goes to court, gets a legal document, and then she takes over the elderly person’s life. When Feldstrom (Macon Blair) tries to get into the home to see his mother, he is physically restrained and thrown out. It is understood nobody gets in, and nobody gets out.
Marla keeps pictures of her charges on a wall in her office. After successfully hooks each target, she puts their picture on the wall and uses a colored dot system to categorize them. She likes to go after wealthy targets, and Fran does the research, narrowing it down to people who have little or no remaining living relatives.
One day they drive by a lovely home where they see an elderly woman going happily about her business. She obviously has no infirmities and walks without a cane. Marla asks Fran about her family – there are no relatives to complicate things. They decide that this woman will be the next target.
Marla comes back to that house with a court order. Jennifer Peterson (Diane Wiest, giving a delightfully understated performance) is stunned to think that she is supposed to leave her home. One minute she is boiling tea, and the next minute she is packing her bags for a trip to the nursing home.
Fran comes in to help her pack, and Jennifer looks outside and sees police officers, so she decides to cooperate. When they get to the nursing home, Marla asks Jennifer for her cellphone and confiscates it. She is given an injection and is on the road to being another sedated elderly person watching TV in the common room. Marla delightfully adds Jennifer’s picture to her growing gallery on the office wall.
Marla and Fran go back to Jennifer’s house and begin ransacking it, taking some items and preparing to sell others. Marla goes into her bank accounts and starts depleting them. The life Jennifer Peterson had that morning when she woke up is effectively gone. The way this process unfolds is upsetting and unsettling. A person’s home, treasured possessions, and savings are instantly taken, and Marla’s cruelty and greed become increasingly clear.
Everything seems to be going according to plan. Fran is working in the house one day and someone arrives to visit Jennifer. It’s a taxi driver who tells her that he used to pick up Jennifer once a week. Fran tells him that Jennifer no longer lives there, and the house has been sold.
Alexi (Nicholas Logan) goes back and reports to his boss Roman Lunyov (a terrific Peter Dinklage) about the situation. Roman is not pleased to hear this news and reacts angrily. With a hulking bodyguard standing behind him as he sits at his desk in a large, expensive looking office with a view, we realize that Roman seems to the kind of man who get what he wants.
Soon afterward slick lawyer Dean Ericson (Chris Messina) is visiting the nursing home and insisting on seeing Marla. He claims that Jennifer Peterson is his client and that she has been taken against her will. Marla keeps her eye on the prize and doesn’t back down, even after he offers cash and gives vague hints of physical violence.
After the meeting, Fran expresses concerns for Marla’s safety and suggests that they go away for Marla’s safety, but Marla refuses to back down. She vapes as she prepares for the fight of her life.
Will Marla succeed? Will Jennifer spend the rest of her life being sedated and watching TV with dozens other sedated residents? Will Roman not stop until he gets what he wants?
The rest of the way is spoiler territory, but the plot takes enough twists and turns. Blakeson keeps us on the edge of our seats as we wonder if this rollercoaster of a movie will ever come down the rails.
This film is highly recommended but not for kids. It’s definitely 16 and up material because of violence, some sexuality, and its depiction of the horrific treatment of the elderly. This is a serious topic that film addresses respectfully, but this is only a small part of what needs to be an ongoing process of reviewing treatment of the elderly in nursing homes.
Pike is awesome – Weist and Dinklage are too – and the ending may be the ultimate twist. I never saw it coming.