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Rosamund Pike Is Very Bad, and That’s Pretty Good

“I Care a Lot,” which had its world premiere on the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival, is a check that throws a variety of totally different however associated questions at its viewers:

Will you hate the central character, Marla Grayson, although she’s performed by Rosamund Pike, who confirmed in “Gone Girl” that she’s very, superb at enjoying very, very unhealthy?

Is it OK to root for her if the individuals coming after her are very, very unhealthy, too?

Will you are taking any pleasure in watching her be despicable, since Pike clearly takes a lot pleasure in enjoying her?

Can you proceed to hate her when she begins doing the stuff a film hero usually does, like utilizing all her pluck and resourcefulness to come back again from all-time low and get revenge on the individuals who tried to hurt her?

And for those who do ever cease hating her, will you then really feel responsible and hate your self for being a sucker, or hate the film for turning you right into a sucker?

I can solely converse for myself after I say that I hated Marla at the start of the film, I hated her on the finish of the film, I hated her each second in between and I typically even hated the film for making an attempt to prod me within the path of not hating her. But director J Blakeson (“The Disappearance of Alice Creed’) most likely needed me to really feel that manner, as a result of why else would he have made this nasty little piece of provocation based mostly round scenery-chewing badness from Pike, Eiza González, Peter Dinklage and a scene-stealing Dianne Wiest?

“I Care a Lot” might have delusions about being a cautionary story of elder abuse and the perils of court-appointed guardianship, however let’s be sincere: It takes manner an excessive amount of enjoyment of despicable individuals doing despicable issues to essentially care so much, and even a lot in any respect, in regards to the bigger social points.

What it cares about is Marla, in her costly fits and patently phony smile, conspiring with crooked medical doctors to turn out to be the court-appointed authorized guardian of aged individuals whose financial institution accounts she will then bleed dry within the guise of serving their finest pursuits. She’s aided by her assistant (and lover) Fran, performed by González, and by a system that’ll fortunately hand over guardianship to a crafty leech like Marla.

Any sane viewer will despise Marla throughout the first 10 minutes, as she and Fran set their sights on Jennifer Peterson (Wiest). She’s a perfect sufferer as a result of she’s bought numerous cash, a pleasant home, no residing family to trigger issues and a physician who’ll declare Jennifer is affected by dementia in alternate for some inventory within the care facilities to which she funnels sufferers.

But Jennifer isn’t fairly as strings-free as Marla and Fran assume, which they be taught when a slick lawyer performed by Chris Messina pays them a go to providing each bribes and threats. When Marla confronts Jennifer and calls for, “Tell me who you are,” Jennifer smiles sweetly and says, “I’m the worst mistake you’ll ever make,” earlier than slipping right into a scrumptious little giggle.

Jennifer, it appears, has connections with a hot-tempered crime lord performed by Peter Dinklage. But Marla is manner too assured and too sociopathic to let a gangster intimidate her, so issues get ugly and bloody and keep there for a lot of the movie’s two-hour operating time (which, by the best way, is just too lengthy).

Dinklage is not less than enjoyable to look at, even when a few of his scenes are curiously flat. Pike is generally calm and decided, reviving her “Gone Girl” character however throwing in a contact of Scarlett O’Hara. (She by no means says, “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again … even if that means defrauding every senior citizen I can lay my well-manicured hands on!” however she would possibly as nicely have.)

But Marla additionally turns right into a cartoon character of kinds, bouncing by means of problems and beatings and twists and subplots and dental surgical procedure with a managed fury that’s often entertaining however fortunately by no means endearing. Blakeson has created a black comedy the place the one factor to love is the truth that you…

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