Netflix’s I Care A Lot thriller had audiences praising the outstanding performance of the cast and it has received great reviews. Marla Grayson is the lead character and a con woman who ends up with possession of the assets (and control of the life) of Jennifer Peterson. Marla’s dominance over the elderly woman prompts her to act in despicable ways in order to ensure that the old lady remains defenseless while she proceeds with a plan to become rich in the process.
But Marla’s character is not too different from the one that actress Rosamund Pike played in 2014’s Gone Girl. Both Marla and Amy Dunne are psychologically riveting as their personalities approach the same theme, one that is focused on women abusing power. There are reasons why I Care A Lot is considered the best, and other reasons that prove it just missed the mark.
Dianne Wiest’s character Jennifer is Marla’s chosen victim to be taken advantage of, financially speaking. There are parts of the movie where fans feel sorry for what is about to be done to this lady, especially when Ms. Grayson, as her legal guardian, orders a medical team to prevent some of Jennifer’s basic needs to be met. But the audience never actually sees the old woman being abused.
Instead, she always comes off as being very much in control of her physical and mental wellbeing, despite all the attempts to break her. While Gone Girl’s Ben Affleck’s character was not always someone the audience wants to root for, they do get to see his struggles as his disturbing discoveries about his wife’s twisted disappearance make him grief every step of the way.
Against all common sense, morals, or even respect for her clients, Marla’s professional, court-appointed guardianships are not immediate villain actions. It’s that she is sneaky in her ways of seducing her clients and anyone in the courtroom. The dozens of elderly wards from who she has stolen are charmed by her sweet talk until, before they know it, she turns into an evil, cold-hearted person who couldn’t care less about their wellbeing.
This type of mean-spirited motive is more evident here than in Gone Girl. There, the anti-hero is more subtle, Amy’s reasons for acting the way she does become somewhat understandable, and fans only really learn about her aberrant masterplan much later in the film.
While both movies portray two thrilling characters with a penchant for monologues and violence, I Care A Lot has a narrative that viewers saw coming. It certainly isn’t as mysterious or intriguing as Gone Girl‘s story is. Marla Grayson has an opening narration where she details everything about her shameless business approach and about the specifics of guardian laws.
But as time goes by, fans can anticipate most of her actions whereas, in Gone Girl, the storyline is dependent on constant reversals of plot twists. As soon as the audience thinks they understand what’s happening, it becomes something else, over and over again.