Analysis of the film I Care a Lot: lonely old age, gender roles, predators and prey. Plot Summary, meaning & essence of the film, what is this movie about?
Country: USA, UK
Genre: Drama, Thriller, Comedy, Crime
Year of production: 2020
Director: Jay Blakeson
Cast: Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eiza Gonzalez, Diane Wiest, Chris Messina
Awards & Nominations: Golden Globe (2021) – Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical (Rosamund Pike)
The plot of the film I Care a Lot tells about an inventive swindler who arranges for herself guardianship over people of advanced age, and then robs them to the skin. In this story, the director talks about what ambitious and purposeful people who want to achieve wealth and fame can do, and also talks about the problem of loneliness of the elderly: this happens everywhere, which is what criminals use for their own selfish purposes.
I Care a Lot Plot Summary
Analysis of the plot of the crime thriller I Care a Lot will help to better understand the essence of the film.
A man named Feldstrom tries to break into his mother’s nursing home, but security doesn’t let him in. Against the background of what is happening, the voice of the main character, Marla Grayson, sounds. She argues that people are divided into two types: those who take and those who give, or “predators” and “prey”, “wolves” and “sheep”. A woman refers to herself as the first type and calls herself a “lioness”.
Macon Blair played the role of Feldstrom, Rosamund Pike starred as Marla Grayson. Frame from the film.
The action moves to the courtroom. Feldstrom is trying to prove that his mother was illegally appointed guardian of Marla Grayson, after which the woman was placed in a nursing home, her belongings were sold and she was deprived of the right to see her own son. The court refuses to side with the victim. At the exit of the building, the man argues with Marla and wishes her to be killed.
Marla Grayson is a swindler. Going to court, she arranges custody of the elderly, convincing the court that they are not able to take care of themselves. In this, she is helped by a female doctor friend, Karen Amos, who selects victims and prepares documents, as well as a close friend and assistant, Fran. Marla then puts the old people in a nursing home where they have no contact with the outside world. After that, she sells their houses and property, and takes the money for herself.
Karen Amos picks up a new victim – wealthy pensioner Jennifer Peterson, who has no close relatives. She prepares fake papers, where she indicates that Jennifer is seriously ill and needs care and attention. Based on the documents, the court appoints Grayson as a guardian. Marla gets an elderly woman into a nursing home, then disposes of her possessions and puts the house up for auction. In a safe deposit box owned by Peterson, she finds money, gold bars, watches. There is also a bag with diamonds that do not exist according to the documents, so the fraudster appropriates them for herself.
Fran is renovating the Peterson house. A taxi arrives to pick up Jennifer Peterson. The girl announces that such a woman no longer lives here. The surprised driver breaks the news to his boss. It turns out to be Roman Lunev, a Russian criminal authority, while the “taxi driver” is his assistant Alexei Ignatiev.
Peter Dinklage played the role of Roman Lunev. Frame from the film.
Lunev orders to find out what happened to Jennifer Peterson, his mother. Ignatiev investigates and reports that the woman is in a nursing home. Roman gives the task to get her out of there with the help of lawyer Dean Erickson.
Dean comes to Marla and advises her to release Peterson, and then offers 300 thousand dollars. Grayson asks to raise the amount to 5 million. Erickson refuses and leaves, telling the woman goodbye that she crossed the path of very powerful people. Dean goes to court, but loses the case: the judge refuses to review the case because the lawyer has no evidence to support that he can represent Jennifer’s interests.
Fran discovers that the real Jennifer Peterson died many years ago, and under her name, a completely different woman is in the orphanage. Marla tries to find out from Peterson her real name, as well as who is trying to help her, but does not receive an answer. Enraged, she asks the head of the nursing home to tighten the conditions in which Jennifer lives.
Lunev comes to the bank and discovers that the diamonds have been stolen. He orders his mother to be kidnapped from an orphanage. Ignatiev, with two henchmen, comes to the institution and almost manages to complete the assignment, but Marla, who arrives, along with the police, detain him and the woman.
Lunev’s henchmen kill Dr. Karen Amos. Grayson and Fran decide to run off with the diamonds. Marla visits Jennifer’s orphanage and threatens her. The woman, seizing the moment, tries to strangle the swindler. Security pulls her away, Grayson goes to court and shows a recording of the incident. On his basis, she commits Peterson to a psychiatric hospital.
Asa Gonzalez as Fran, Dianne Wiest as Jennifer Peterson, Rosamund Pike as Marla. Frame from the film.
Marla and Fran escape from their own apartment to the unsold house of one of their employees. Marla is then kidnapped and Fran is severely beaten and left for dead.
The bound Grayson is brought to Lunev. Roman threatens the fraudster with death, murder of loved ones and torture, but Marla replies that she agrees to let his mother go only for $ 10 million. Lunev orders to kill Grayson.
Marla is euthanized and dumped with a car into a lake. At the last moment, she comes to her senses and swims out. Grayson gets home, finds Fran beaten up and brings her to her senses. She then suggests to her friend that they run away together with the diamonds or take revenge, after which the women jointly choose the second option.
Marla and Fran find out where Roman lives, kidnap him, drug him, and dump him on the highway. They find him and call an ambulance. Waking up, Lunev sees that he is in the hospital. Marla comes to him. From the content of her monologue, it becomes known that it was not possible to establish the name of Roman, and since he, by all indications, needs outside help, he was appointed a guardian – her, Marla, so now he is in her power. The scammer places Lunev in an orphanage.
Ending explanation of I Care a Lot
Marla offers Roman to pay her $10 million. In return, she will free him and his mother. Lunev makes her a counter offer: to become partners. Using Lunev’s money, as well as Marla’s talents and connections, they open a network of shelters throughout the country and receive many elderly people under their care, whose property they take for themselves. Grayson becomes rich, successful and powerful.
At the end of the film, Marla is interviewed on television. At the exit of the building, Feldstrom approaches her and informs her that his mother died in an orphanage without saying goodbye to her son. After these words, he takes out a gun and shoots at Grayson. Marla dies in Fran’s arms.
The explanation for this ending of the film I Care a Lot is that the woman was still punished.
The meaning of the film I Care a Lot
Also, Jay Blakeson’s crime thriller is known as The Swindler. This variant of the name is appropriate, but it does not fully convey the meaning of the picture. Its original name is “I Care a Lot”. This phrase has several translation options – “I care very much”, “It is very important to me”, “I am very worried about this”. They all better reflect the actions of Marla Grayson: she really thinks, cares and worries about the elderly, but only in her own interests.
The film I Care a Lot is not based on real events, but director Jay Blakeson said that the idea to make it came about when he read about a swindler who, using the imperfection of laws, arranged custody of older people and then disposed of their property. Having become interested and having studied in more detail the description of these events, he discovered that such situations occur regularly and decided to devote a film to this problem. At the same time, he did not shoot the drama on behalf of the victim, but showed what was happening in the format of a criminal thriller and from the side of the criminal.
Frame from the film.
I Care a Lot raises the issue of attitudes towards older people in general. After the release of the picture, the director said in an interview that he wanted to show the problem of ignoring the older generation. It is not uncommon for old people to remain on their own for one reason or another. The film encourages you to think about this and understand that you need not to forget them, visit them, control them in order to be able to protect and prevent such situations.
In the first few minutes of I Care a Lot, Feldstrom tries to get his mother out of the orphanage. The hidden meaning of his presence in the film is not only to show a character who in the final will take revenge and kill the fraudster. We are shown that an elderly woman had a healthy and capable son who could protect her, but for some reason did not. Marla herself speaks about this at the trial: Feldstrom had a chance to take her mother to him or transport her to a nursing home to help her, but this did not happen. As a result, she was “taken care of” by others.
Another thing about older people is the fact that each of them is a unique person who can (or had) an exciting and fulfilling life, but everyone forgets about it. The director conveys this idea in “The Swindler” in the words of one of the characters and shows the example of Jennifer Peterson. For the first time, an ordinary and unremarkable old woman appears on the screen – she goes to the cinema, the pool, works in the garden, reads. However, having fallen into the hands of Marla, the elderly woman demonstrates that she is far from being as simple and harmless as it seems: she is not afraid of a scammer, refuses to help her, and at one point even tries to strangle her.
Dianne Wiest as Jennifer. Frame from the film.
Another theme that Jay Blakeson explored in the film “The Conman” is ambition and determination. That’s what Marla Grayson is. She sees her meaning of life in achieving success, wealth and power. For the sake of this, on her way, she never gives up and does not stop at anyone or anything, even if she has to break the fate of other people. To show her strength, the director confronts her with a real cruel and ruthless criminal, whom the woman defeats with difficulty, but still.
In the thriller I Care a Lot there is also a gender issue. Marla is strong and independent, lives with another woman, hates men and seeks to defeat them or force them to act according to her rules. She succeeds easily, because almost all the male figures in the film are ridiculous, weak or stupid: this is Feldstrom, the judge, the head of the shelter for the elderly, Roman Lunev’s henchmen.
Only the lawyer Dean Erickson and Lunev himself are depicted without comedy, but their woman also wins: she wins the court against the first, and places the second in an orphanage, after which Roman offers her to cooperate. The irony is that at the end of the film, Marla dies at the hands of a man – Feldstrom, from whom she won the trial, and then wondered how he felt defeated by a woman.
In the last minutes of I Care a Lot Marla Grayson achieves fame, fortune and success, but immediately dies, punished for her actions. The director himself gave an explanation for this in an interview: the key to such an ending for her character is that he wanted the viewer, after looking at the picture, to understand that it is impossible to use people for their own purposes, and did not draw other, incorrect conclusions. Also, according to Blakeson, it would be strange to let Marla get away with retribution after what she did and how many destinies she broke.
Frame from the film.
- “Magnificent Scam” (USA, UK, 2003). The life of Roy, an experienced swindler, is completely changed after the appearance in his life of a daughter, the existence of which he did not suspect.
- “Focus” (USA, Argentina, 2014). A professional swindler meets an aspiring thief and begins to train her, but love feelings interfere with their work together.
- Velcro (Germany, USA, 2011). Two gangs of robbers attack the same bank and run into each other. One of the clients is trying to resolve the situation, reconcile the criminals and save people.