Under the Surface

Under the Surface

A satirical and highly effective jab at the American health system, I Care A Lot comes packaged with a delicious lead performance from Rosamund Pike, who offers up her best work since Gone Girl. In that David Fincher adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s best-seller, she was a scheming, sociopathic wife; here, she takes some of those traits and wraps them in an ice-cool exterior – something she’s so good at doing.

She plays Marla Grayson, a calculating businesswoman who makes thousands of dollars by preying on elderly, vulnerable people and using the ‘system’ to lock these people away in nursing homes after convincing a judge (Isiah Whitlock Jr) that they’re a danger to themselves and others. Once inside, and jacked up on prescription pills, these victims are helpless as Marla and her partner-in-crime, girlfriend Fran (Eiza González) begin to asset-strip their lives, selling off their property and possessions. It’s pure evil.

So convincing is the sharp-suited Pike and the characterisation crafted by British writer-director J. Blakeson (The Disappearance of Alice Creed) that you’ll likely be shouting at the screen, so horrifyingly cruel and calculating is Marla. Really, she’s the arch capitalist, a living nightmare who is only interested in financial gain. Quite rightly, Pike has been nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance.

The tables turn, however, when she settles on her latest victim – Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest), a singleton who just so happens to be the mother of a local criminal, Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage), who doesn’t take kindly to Marla meddling with his mother or, more importantly, his financial affairs. What follows is an entirely surprising turn of events that will likely leave you guessing until the final real.  

Blakeson, who was last seen directing episodes of 2017 Guy Fawkes drama Gunpowder, has constructed a near-perfect thriller here; the world is heightened, but it’s somehow entirely believable – a system where everyone is on the take and the gullible and needy can easily be stamped on, exploited or torn apart. Aesthetically, the film is colourful and welcoming, yet beneath the gilded surface, there lurks a really twisted and satisfying storyline.  

I Care A Lot is available on Amazon Prime Video from 19 February. For more details, click here.

James Mottram