A collision of two individuals – one explicitly criminal and one lawfully right yet morally wrong – shapes the captivating narrative of I Care a Lot, the new film by J Blakeson. Marla Grayson’s desire to reign supremacy in a man’s world keeps the ball rolling from the word go. A con-woman who uses the judiciary to make her the legal guardian of the elderly on the pretext of their health, Marla sends them to a care home post which she alienates them from their family and auctions their property for her personal gain. The elders’ deteriorating health is her bounty, their life and existence are mere pictures on her wall, and their death is another opportunity to further her growth and inflate her bank balance. When one of her wards dies, she substitutes Jennifer Peterson in her fruitful formula of money-minting, deeming her to be a cherry on the cake as the old Jennifer has no living family. Jennifer’s words “I’m the worst mistake you’ll ever make” turn out to be true, but a fiercely business-minded Marla gives no hint of taking a backstep, upturning her mistakes and their repercussions into opportunities to climb the money ladder.
The most delightful aspect of the writing here is how it puts Marla, someone who uses her wicked mind to pull off court-approved immoral acts, against Roman Lunyov, a crime-boss. It’s two bad people at war and both of them have to go out of their league to get what they want. For instance, Marla confronts Lunyov to face her the right way – in court – instead of using his brawny ways to get things done. Early in the film, Marla questions a man who just legally lost to her, whether it hurts so much more to be beaten by a woman. This is her worldview and when she is faced head-on with another man, it’s a full-steam ‘woman vs wild world’ game that knows very little about the boundaries of morality, from both sides. Every time you think Marla is hitting the bottom, she sways upwards, and how! It’s comedic that Marla brings down Roman, someone who can get people killed with a snap, on his toes. A con-artist, who purely built herself using her mind, becoming a fitting rival to the mascular mafia is amusing. Between Roman and Marla, it’s very hard to decide who’s the lesser of the two evils. That is the best state of uncertainty a film can push you into and each one of us has to make a choice for ourselves.
I Care a Lot is streaming on Netflix.