Gretchen Lee– Staff Writer
When I heard about Netflix’s original film, I Care A Lot, I was excited. With an excellent cast and alluring storyline, I thought for sure this movie would be a slam-dunk classic thriller. I was wrong. I Care A Lot falls incredibly short of the potential it had by failing to evoke emotion from the audience and condensing all the exciting moments into the last ten minutes of the film.
Marla Grayson has been grifting the elderly most of her life. She convinces doctors to claim that rich, older people are unable to care for themselves and need a legal guardian. Marla then takes up guardianship of these people, selling their assets and keeping the money for herself. However, her schemes take a southward turn when she accidentally takes guardianship of the mother of an incredibly powerful Russian mobster. As the mobster chases her down, Marla must rely on her wits and conman abilities to survive.
As interesting as this plot sounds, the reality was sorely disappointing. The pacing was incredibly slow and not much actually happened in the movie. The parts of this movie that actually mattered could have been fit into a 20-minute short film that would have been more effective than this 2-hour edition. There were moments of this movie that were clearly constructed to be points of high-intensity and tension, but the characters in this movie were generally so unlikeable that, without any desire to root for any one party, I struggled to emotionally connect to these scenes. The best moments of the movie were right at the end, when Marla got the upper hand on the Russian mobster and ended up teaming up with him to start ripping off the elderly nationwide. At the very end of the film, Marla is shot and killed by the son of one of the women she stole from, which was, while sad and horrifying, a very satisfying ending to this film. The fact that I had to sit through two hours of nothing to get to this moment, however, was ridiculous.
While this film had some relatively cinematic moments with decent use of lighting and framing, it was difficult to enjoy the camerawork as it was paired with one of the worst soundtracks I have ever heard. An overuse of dissonance and screeching chords felt like an assault on the ears and did not have an enhancing effect on the movie. Scenes without sound did not impress in terms of other forms of sound design.
Overall, this movie feels like a dusty attempt to be edgy and exciting. An excellent plot falls flat on its face by failing to provide the audience with emotional payoff and forcing them to sit through bland storytelling in order to see a decent ending.
I Care A Lot had such a potential to tell a funny, compelling story of a couple of villains trying to out-villain each other. I’ve seen many movies where villains, while carrying out inexcusable actions, were still compelling and likable in some way. Neither the Russian mobster nor Marla were interesting or likeable. They didn’t have any of the flair of other classic movie villains. Worst of all, this movie was labeled as “satire,” which it is clearly not. It doesn’t even come close to touching satire. Perhaps the real con of this movie wasn’t Marla’s theft from her clients, but the fact that this movie was advertised as exciting.