I Care A Lot, 2021 directed by J Blakeson is a dark comedic crime thriller that focuses on machismo violence and critiques of capitalism. The film stars Rosamund Pike who is a legally appointed guardian for senior people. After honing in on Jennifer Peterson played by Dianne Wiest, Pikes character Marla Grayson has to deal with the dangerous baggage that comes along with Ms Peterson.
Marla Grayson is a cold grifter who sees seniors as dollar signs for her business. And she’s not the only one who sees the elderly that way. The health care professionals of the film see the old and aging as cash crops as well. From the beginning of the film Marla and her partner Fran played by Eiza González, is met with violence by the son of one of Marla’s wards. Like the real world, the films starring queer duo is forced to combat with gender based violence and harassment from the get go. We are introduced to the character of Roman Lunyov a Russian mob boss played by the charismatic Peter Dinklage. While the film doesn’t touch on the subject much, there is a scene where we see Roman and his hit man go over their latest drug trafficking operation, where they use women as mules to transport drugs. But the machismo violence against women doesn’t stop there.
Men who want their mommies
The films antagonist Roman Lunyov is a methodical crime boss who volleys Marla’s cool apathy with stereotypical male rage. From window punching to bottle throwing Roman Lunyov has quite a fit over not being able to see his mother. Marla Grayson is a vampire for men who have strong connections to their mother. At the beginning we see an unkept man, Feldstrom (Macon Blair) go into a frenzy to free his mother from the senior living center where Marla keeps her wards. She whisks them away to assisted living with the wave of state legality and drains them of their property and savings. The connection between Feldstrom’s need for his mother and Roman Lunyov’s need for his is typical of children who cry at day care about missing their mothers. While Feldstrom lacks the resources to hire hit men to storm the facility and engage in a kidnapping like Lunyov he does everything in his power to attack Marla. After Feldstrom losses to Marla in court. He yells obscenities calling Marla “a f*ciking b*tch” and threatens her with rape and murder. He then proceeds to spit on her. Marla and Fran are dealt even more violence when they get mixed up with Lunyov’s mafia. Both Feldstrom and Lunyov become violent and unwilling to grasp with the reality that their mother is no longer accessible to them. A Freduian analysis will say that the men are prone to violence when another women deprives them of their mothers. The film does a good job at making grown men look like children.
The ugly underbelly of healthcare
Exposing the casual cruelty of a healthcare system that prioritizes profit over people is a baseline critique of capitalism. J Blakeson establishes that critique throughout the duration of the film. Profit over people is Marla’s game, she wants to get rich off of her clients. A last minute partnership between Marla and Lunyov shows the marriage between crime and legality, which is the focus of the entire film. All of the professionals in this film are blunt and nasty. Dr. Amos (Alicia Witt) refers to some of her patients as “*ssholes”, Sam Rice the assisted living director (Damian Young) is completely apathetic to his senior clients, and an uninterested Judge (Isiah Whitlock Jr) goes through the bureaucracy of his duties without really noticing how underhanded Marla’s business is. The true ugliness of healthcare is where we find the professionals who see people as money bags and are too bored to care.
Overall I Care a Lot is an enjoyable and stylish movie that plays with gender and social dynamics well. It stands out for a Netflix original.