What these predators fail to realize is that they picked the wrong prey this time around, and that by kidnapping, imprisoning and defrauding this seemingly kind retiree, they made some dangerous and violent people angry. Peter Dinklage is low-key as a volatile Russian gangster with a baking propensity, and Chris Messina has a terrific scene as his soft-spoken lawyer, who walks into Marla’s office and tries to redeem her before resorting to threat. The lively and increasingly intense exchange, with the two actors matching barb for barb, is the highlight of the film.
Blakeson came up with such an original idea here, and he presented it in a way that was both elegant and lively. Sure, the wan, stray nature of these characters is disturbing, but the verve of the storytelling on display keeps you hooked, as does the ever-versatile Pike. She’s captivating with her confidence and ability to outsmart everyone, every time. Marla is a despicable human being, and while you won’t exactly find yourself rooting for her to be successful, you will at least be curious if she can still pull off her weirdest plan. And then, once we realize who Jennifer Peterson really is – and who she’s connected to – Wiest reveals a character who is extremely keen through the haze of drugs she probably doesn’t even need.
“Don’t be fooled by the elderly,” Marla tells Fran as they learn about the multitude of their last ward. “Even sadistic and immoral assholes get old.
But the detached and bewildered tone that has sustained the film for so long finally gives way to real feelings – to its detriment – as this dark comedy gradually turns just plain dark. Pike can do anything, and it’s his juiciest role since “Gone Girl,” but “I Care a Lot” becomes less interesting when his character begins to let go of emotions like fear. We don’t need justification for Marla’s heinous acts; just making her a monster makes her a stronger point. And eventually, she becomes superhuman in the face of real physical danger, which we’re just meant to go with – as if her rebellious and starving nature makes her a survivor in any situation.
But she pulls off a cool trick involving a broken tooth and a jug of milk that may come in handy someday, so if you learn anything by watching “I Care a Lot” make sure it’s handy (and healthy) treat. .
Now playing on Netflix.