What do you get when you mix the psychopathy of Gone Girl’s Amy Dunne, the dehumanizing capitalism of American Psycho, and the sapphic energy of A Simple Favor? Probably something akin to Netflix’s deliciously dark comedy, I Care a Lot.
I Care a Lot is a vibrant, chaotic exploration into the business of caring. At the center of it all: Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike), a corrupt caregiver who forces her elderly clients into assisted living facilities and drains them of all they’re worth. Everyone’s on the take, from greedy doctors to facility coordinators to Marla’s savvy business and life partner, Fran (Eiza Gonzáles). The only one who doesn’t seem to be profiting from this horrific practice is a singular judge who is so easily duped into granting Marla custody of her victims that he doesn’t warrant a bribe.
Marla is, above all else, a grifter. “You think you’re good people,” she judges the viewer at the top of the film. “I used to be like you. Thinking that working hard and playing fair leads to success and happiness. It doesn’t. Playing fair is a joke invented by rich people to keep the rest of us poor.” There are only two types of people in Marla’s world: lions and lambs. Guess which one she is?
Throughout the film—which spirals delightfully out of control once Marla gets her hand on a client with mob connections—I kept thinking back to another hustler with a penchant for monologues and violence: Amy Dunne. Perhaps Rosamund Pike is right when she tells me it simply comes down to the fact that she plays both psychopaths, but I can’t help thinking it’s more than that. Marla Grayson is everything the Gone Girl antihero always wanted to be: successful, rich, and independent. When Marla asks everyone watching what they’d be willing to sacrifice to achieve their dreams, I imagine Amy would simply respond, everything.
Still, a sick part of me couldn’t help but root for Gone Girl’s spiteful housewife, while all I could root for during I Care a Lot was for Marla’s demise—and her impeccable bob. For Pike, it’s the opposite.
“Amy is a genuine sociopath who also commits murder. Now, Marla’s done terrible things and her hustle is, frankly, appalling and odious, but she has lines that she won’t cross,” Pike tells me over Zoom. “I think what they do have in common is that they’re reprehensible characters who are fun to watch.”