“I Care A Lot” seesaw characters drive viewers crazy

One+of+Netflix%27s+most+recent+and+popular+releases+is+driving+viewers+nuts+with+phenomenal+actors+playing+the+worst+characters.+

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One of Netflix’s most recent and popular releases is driving viewers nuts with phenomenal actors playing the worst characters.

Patrick Kane, Staff Reporter

I’m a firm  believer that characters make a story, not necessarily the plot. A story can have a weak plot held together by duct tape but be saved by having interesting characters with depth. In contrast, the world’s most beautifully crafted plot means nothing if it is carried by uninteresting character. 

“I Care A Lot,” a 2020 Netflix original film written and directed by Jonathan Blakeson, falls into the latter category. It is a beautifully shot, wonderfully acted piece of film bogged down by unintentionally (though perhaps intentionally) unsympathetic main characters.

Marla Grayson, played by Rosamund Pike, is a corrupt legal guardian ordered by the state to look after an elderly person who can no longer take care of themselves. Together with her partner Fran, played by Eiza Gonzalez, Marla cons her wards out of all their finances, leaving them to wither away in care homes. 

However, when Marla discovers that her latest con has mysterious ties to a dangerous mob boss, it leads to a series of events the quick-witted Marla may not be able to con her way out of.

From the opening scene alone, Marla is established as an absolutely awful, evil person who you do not look forward to seeing as your protagonist. That being said, this can be attributed to Pike’s deliciously awful performance. She is able to portray confidence, smugness, and moral depravity to such a degree, you’d think this was a sequel to “Gone Girl.” 

Pike is fantastic in this role, unfortunately a little too fantastic, as I spent most of the movie actively rooting against her. She gives some legitimate topical issues, like the struggles of professional women and late-stage capitalism, as some flimsy justifications for her actions, but this just reeks of Jake Peralta’s immortal words: “Cool motive, still murder.” 

Believe it or not, the most sympathetic character in the movie is actually Peter Dinklage’s bloodthirsty mob boss character. This is mainly due to his overall motivation, but I won’t divulge. As always, Dinklage is a delight to watch, showing the calm yet unhinged confidence needed to portray a good mobster. 

As I mentioned before, it’s a beautifully acted film. It also represents the LGBTQ+ community with the story’s main romance between Marla and Fran. This is particularly well done, as even with both characters being morally bankrupt, their relationship provides a few of the film’s genuinely touching moments.

The only thing that keeps me from giving “I Care A Lot” an outright negative review is the ending. I went through three quarters of the movie wanting a particular outcome. So when the final act started to go the other way, I was furious. I couldn’t wait to tear this movie apart. However, then the film went off-course and presented a series of events I never saw coming. I was blown away, as this plot twist just about saved the movie for me. However, Blakeson wasn’t done yet. 

At the very end of the movie, the movie shifts yet again, and actually gives me the ending I had initially wanted! Never before had a movie made me want something, given me the opposite, then given me an alternative I never saw coming, then turned around and given me what I wanted in the first place! 

It’s the kind of ending that made me reevaluate my feelings on the film.

Ultimately, “I Care A Lot” is a well-made, well-acted film that makes your “protagonists” so unbearably unlikeable and immoral that they actually give the mob the moral high ground. There was too much I hated to make this review positive, but there was too much I liked to make it negative. 

If we want to go with the “five stars” system, I’d have to go down the middle and give “I Care A Lot” a 2.5 out of 5. y Here’s the main takeaway: when writing a movie, be sure not to mix up your protagonist and antagonist midway through, it will drive people nuts.