The aged care system turns into a warped microcosm of capitalism writ giant in the satirically titled I Care a Lot. “Enjoying truthful is a joke invented by the wealthy to maintain the remainder of us poor,” pronounces Rosamund Pike in the introductory monologue of the Netflix black comedy. Pike’s Marla Grayson is a dead-eyed ice queen who swindles geriatrics for a residing. Paired to a slo-mo opening sequence of cheery caregivers tending to unsuspecting geriatrics are Marla’s proclamations on how there isn’t any such factor pretty much as good individuals, and the world is simply made up of two varieties of individuals: predators and prey, lions and lambs, you get the place she goes. She is fast to affirm she’s no lamb, however a “fucking lioness.”
The binary by no means tracks, nevertheless it’s easy sufficient to be mistaken for sweeping. It is a model of that Gordon Gecko “Greed is nice” spiel for 21st-century vulture capitalists. Like all “there are two varieties of individuals on the earth” and “eat or be eaten” rhetoric, it is a binary at all times proclaimed with an air of superiority. In Marla’s case, the value-laden assumption helps self-rationalise her predatory schemes. For if there are solely two varieties of individuals on this world, they’re these smug sufficient to suppose there are solely two varieties, and those that know higher.
Retaining with the theme, writer-director J Blakeson winnows down the story’s scope to deal with two girls on both aspect of the grift. On one aspect is clearly Marla. Collectively together with her enterprise companion and lover Fran (Eiza González), she has streamlined a ruthlessly environment friendly MO: get the aged wards declared mentally unfit, develop into their court-appointed guardian, money out their property and pocket the earnings. It is a zero-sum MO of lies, deceit and profiteering akin to that of any energy dealer in capitalist buildings. Pike is disarmingly charming, which makes it all of the extra unsettling. Solely in scenes alongside González will we get a glimpse of a beating coronary heart in a heartless girl. Marla wears her precision bob, sharply tailor-made outfits and stiletto heels like armour, like she’s at all times ready for impending battle.
On the opposite aspect of the swindle is Marla’s next mark: Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest), an oldie with seemingly no household or inheritor. It’s harrowing to look at a superbly lucid girl being compelled out of her own residence and locked up in a facility with no guests and no cell telephones. There is not any method out for the outdated and defenceless right here. Because the lawyer performed by Chris Messina calls it, they’re “money cows.” However what begins off as one other profitable swindle for Marla finally ends up being her greatest misstep. It seems Jennifer isn’t any common oldie, however has shut ties with Russian mafia boss Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage). With a brand new lion in the midst, Marla quickly learns she should up her recreation earlier than she turns into a casualty of her personal metaphor.
Eat or be eaten is the order of the day. Predator turns into prey, and roles reverse greater than as soon as throughout the movie’s runtime. In such a recreation that rewards ruthlessness, Pike and Dinklage battle it out like gladiators trying to tame a lion. Marla and Roman are completely different faces of the identical coin. One hides in plain sight, the opposite works from the shadows. It’s a reflection of our actuality the place the felony has turned company and the company felony, making it all of the extra arduous to gauge how a lot of our day by day lives are in the grasp of their tentacles.
If Roman is susceptible to vein-popping villainy, Marla hides hers behind a smile. She is a sight to behold even when she’s trying to justify her amorality. Even when she tries to persuade us her villainy is born out of necessity, not need. The truth that Marla and Roman are irredeemable is a part of what makes the film fulfilling. To an extent at the very least. As a result of Blakeson’s satirical aspirations are a swindle in itself, sheen that tries to persuade us the film is much more scathing than it truly is. in the third-act pivot in the direction of Marla and Roman’s feud, the plot develops a wrinkle too many, its satirical barbs lose their sting, and the shlocky denouement prevents the movie from delivering a sucker punch to the healthcare system.
Blakeson assembles a gallery of artful deplorables but by no means editorialises in judgment. Marla is ready to exploit the aged as a result of the system permits it. She pays the physician to falsely diagnose the aged. The legal professionals are detached, the choose is unsuspecting, and the nurses are too underpaid to care. What makes the entire thing horrifying is Marla is working inside the confines of a malleable authorized framework. Because the CEOs of all of the Fortune 500 firms will attest, if you happen to can oil the correct gears of the capitalist machine, you may hold it operating easily indefinitely, and nobody will care. Marla’s “if everybody’s stealing, why not take part” philosophy thus reinforces capitalism’s unusual maintain over us.
Preying on the aged isn’t any laughing matter, however I Care a Lot proves there isn’t any matter too grim to glean comedy from. Viewers could also be conflicted whether or not to chuckle with abandon or tremble with indignation, and will find yourself doing each. However even the laughs can be tempered with the sobering realism of a dog-eat-dog world which renders the aged most susceptible. In an change between Marla and Messina’s lawyer, he says, “In case your entire enterprise isn’t the right instance of the American Dream, I don’t know what’s.” In a film that offers in loads of binaries, it is maybe the one singular reality.