SPOILER ALERT: The following review contains mild spoilers for “I Care a Lot.”
Most people have normal phobias, like spiders or excessive fear of heights. I was in that group too, until I had my first introduction to British actress Rosamund Pike.
When I first saw the trailer for “I Care a Lot,” I couldn’t help but think of “Gone Girl”. That movie presented me with a lot of firsts. It was the first time I had ever felt stressed after a movie. Usually, I’m stressed during the movie, but after seeing the end result, I’m able to live with it because I know it’s based in a fictitious universe. That wasn’t the case with this movie.
It was also the first time I had ever felt sorry for actor Ben Affleck (I will forever hate his portrayal of Batman). The sharp coldness of Pike’s gaze as she meticulously planned a fake kidnapping to make Affleck’s life a living hell made me squirm every ten minutes. The way she trapped Affleck into staying with her for the next 18 years of their child’s life left me unnerved long after the credits rolled.
After seeing that film, I went through a process of forgetting it completely. I stopped watching films directed by David Fincher, which meant no viewing of “The Social Network” (one of the greatest movies of the last decade). I asked my mom, who loved the movie, not to watch it while I was around. I quickly returned the book, which I meant to read before watching the movie.
For six years, my process succeeded. I was able to hate Affleck again. My nightmares of a psychopath trapping me in a bad marriage had faded, and I settled back into having a stressed mindset during movies and not after them.
Then, out of nowhere, YouTube flashed a movie trailer for “I Care a Lot,” and there she was, sporting a sharp bob cut with steely blue eyes. I watched the trailer in disgust as she scammed old people to fund her high roller lifestyle. My immediate reaction was to not watch the movie, but then my curiosity seeped in. Surely, she must lose in this movie. Right?
I was incredibly wrong.
I went on my Netflix and spent two hours watching Pike continually find a way to win and look smug while doing it.
The film opens with Pike’s character, Marla Grayson, a con artist who portrays herself as a conservator in order to convince court systems to grant her guardianship over elders, who presumably can’t take care of themselves. They actually can, but are unable to do anything because Grayson pays a doctor to give false testimonies.
Grayson’s operation flows smoothly until she targets the mother of Russian mobster Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage). From there, the movie alternates between Lunyov scheming and Grayson outwitting with ruthless efficiency. There are a couple of moments throughout the film when you start to think Grayson is about to lose, only for her to promptly snuff out those hopes.
In fact, there is a 10-minute stretch in the film where she’s kidnapped, gets a tooth knocked loose and nearly drowns in a lake. From there, she escapes from the lake, walks to a gas station, preserves her tooth in a jug of milk, saves her girlfriend from dying and gets her tooth placed back in, all during the same night. I will admit it impressed me, which of course made me hate her more.
Towards the end of the film, Grayson plots her revenge, proving she will only lose on her terms. To say it frustrated me is a severe understatement. I wanted to see her outsmarted and humiliated. Instead, I left feeling like Affleck, who played right into Amy Dunne’s trap.
Now, I must go through this process of forgetting once more.
Thank you, Rosamund Pike.