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"I am a fucking lioness."
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I Care a Lot is a 2020 Black Comedy crime thriller film written and directed by J Blakeson, about Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike), a corrupt guardian who imprisons her elderly wards in old people's homes, drains their savings, and steals from them. With her business partner and girlfriend Fran (Eiza González), she targets an apparent "cherry", seemingly normal pensioner Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest). However, Jennifer's son Roman (Peter Dinklage) has secrets, and he's hot on Marla and Fran's trail.


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Tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: Implied. Marla is threatened with a video of her mother, she is unfazed and calls her a "fucking sociopath".
  • Adult Fear: The film revolves around systematic elder abuse, so it's doubly uncomfortable for those who are advanced in age or who have elderly parents and care decisions must be made for them.
    • The son from the beginning is permanently cut off from contact with his vulnerable mother because she got caught in Marla's web, and Marla implies in court that it's his fault — all because he was trying to respect his mother's wishes. He never gets to see her again, and she dies helpless and alone.
    • Jennifer's situation. One day a group of people come to your house, declare you incompetent by court order, and strongarm you into a car where you're taken to a facility where you can't leave or contact anyone, and a complete stranger can control your life completely. Nothing you say or do makes any difference. It's terrifying, and what happened to countless victims of Marla's who weren't lucky enough to have someone like Roman coming to rescue them.
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  • Alas, Poor Villain: Make no mistake, Marla absolutely deserved her violent death at the end. Yet, it feels a little bit tragic as she tries to keep eye contact with Fran as she sobs and cradles her in her arms.
  • Ambiguously Evil: Judge Lomax. Whether he is incredibly gullible and believes everything Marla says at face-value or he is working alongside her for a cut is unknown. He only makes appearances in courtroom settings; any backdoor deals are unseen.
  • Amoral Attorney: Dean Ericson. He flat-out says that he finds nothing wrong with Marla abusing countless clients, just that only Jennifer is off-limits.
  • Aside Glance: Happens once. After Dean Ericson begins hinting to Marla that Jennifer is far more powerful than she appears, Marla sits back and smirks directly at the camera before asking "Is that a threat?"
  • Asshole Victim: The son of one of Marla’s earlier victims makes good on his threat and guns her down at the end of the film.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The beginning of the film suggested that Marla was merely using Fran as a tool and that the latter was a Love Martyr who was going to eventually realise the former was a monster who felt nothing for her and betray her. Nothing could be further from the truth. Their relationship was genuine and Fran was just as complicit and gleeful in her endeavours as her girlfriend.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Marla’s entire modus operandi; she’s a con-artist who gains legal guardianship of elderly or disabled people and pretends to act in their best interest while at the same time defrauding them and then leaving her victims to die in a nursing home, alone and penniless.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity:
    • Rather than just killing Marla outright, Roman pushes her car into a lake. This gives her time to get out and escape.
    • Rather than kill Fran, Roman's men injure her and leave the gas on to explode, leaving her alive for Marla to come back and rescue.
  • Book-Ends: Marla blows off the son's threats in a parking lot. He shoots her to death in the parking lot of a news station in the final scene.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Marla thinks nothing of imprisoning the old lady from the beginning in a psychiatric ward and keeping her from her son; it's not even the worst thing she does. Then he shows up and kills her because his mother died without ever seeing him again.
  • Call-Back: The man from the beginning threatens Marla, and she blows off his threats. He comes back in the final scene and actually shoots her.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Marla's first patient and her son. She dies alone, and her son comes back to get revenge on Marla in the final scene.
  • Consistent Clothing Style: Marla almost always wears matching pantsuits in bright colors.
  • Depraved Dwarf: Downplayed. Peter Dinklage plays an apparently brutal Russian gangster, but he's Affably Evil if you don't get in his way.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Judge Lomax, who is either as sharp as a bowl of jello or in on Marla's scam, does have a point that since Dean Ericson doesn't have any official paperwork declaring him Jennifer's lawyer, he doesn't have any reason to represent her.
  • Easily Forgiven: Roman admits to not liking or trusting Marla at all, but he still goes into business with her and makes her a millionaire.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas:
    • Roman is a vicious Russian gangster but he isn't going to let Marla get between him and his mom.
    • Subverted by Marla. Roman tries to pull this on her with her mother, but Marla calls her a psychopath and says she doesn't care what happens to her.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Marla genuinely loves her girlfriend Fran.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Played with. The first half of the film leads us to believe that Marla is a case of this, and thus wouldn't be capable of truly loving Fran, who was also set up to be a Love Martyr. It ends up being averted hard. Marla and Fran have an actual relationship, and the latter is just as evil as she is.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Marla and Fran are a con artist couple heartlessly tearing families apart for money and Roman is a ruthless Russian crime lord determined to kill the both of them.
  • Extremely Protective Child: Neither Roman or the guy from the beginning will accept Marla exploiting and keeping them from their moms. Averted with Marla herself not caring about her own mother.
  • Death by Materialism: Barely avoided with Roman, with Marla refusing to simply surrender his mother back to him hoping to get more money out of them, played straight with the man from the beginning.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Marla dies in Fran's arms.
  • Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: Marla is very beautiful, which she uses to her advantage when she's trying to turn judges and others in her favor.
  • Famous Last Words: "Oh, listen, I don't have time-" - Marla Grayson, before she is shot dead by the son of a woman she let die alone in a hospice.
  • Freudian Excuse: Implied. Marla grew up in poverty and almost seems happy when Roman threatens her mother.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Marla is an evil, extremely corrupt character who constantly vapes.
  • Industrialized Evil: Marla tortures Jennifer but does so through legal means, like putting her on minimal meals and reducing her time outside to almost zero.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Although she didn't seem as vicious and remorseless as Marla, Fran nonetheless was a full and knowing participant in the scam but receives no comeuppance at the end of the movie. Yes, Fran had to watch her lover die in her arms, but she was more than likely in Marla's will and received a VERY large some of money and possibly control of the business after her death.
    • Roman. He presumably continues to control and profit off of the huge elder scam corporation along with all his other ventures he had going on.
    • The Judge. Whether it was just plain old incompetence, or he was in on the scam, he faced no consequences for ordering dozens of innocent elderly people into this con-woman's care with no questions asked.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Marla appears to have gotten away with everything and become the multi millionaire she always wanted to be by exploiting the elderly on a mass scale. Then the guy from the opening who threatened her shows up and makes good on his promise, shooting and killing her.
  • Karmic Death:
    • The doctor who helps Marla to imprison elderly patients by faking their records is murdered by the Russian mob, who Make It Look Like an Accident.
    • Not only did Marla deserve to die, but she is murdered by a man she forgot about whose mother died alone and afraid because of her.
  • Morality Pet: Horrible as Marla is, she really does love Fran, and vice versa.
  • Mugging the Monster:
    • Marla picked on Jennifer because she thought she was easy prey. Turns out that Jennifer is neither, because she's the beloved mother of a Russian gangster.
    • Played with. It's clear the guy at the beginning wasn't dangerous until Marla took his mother from him and forced her to die alone.
  • Punk in the Trunk: The Russian mobsters kidnap Marla by drugging her and putting her in her own trunk.
  • Psycho Lesbian: Subverted. Marla is evil, and she's a lesbian, but she genuinely loves Fran and their relationship is portrayed as her one and only redeeming quality.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Leans heavily on the cynical side, with the protagonists being a pair of immoral con artists and the villain being a ruthless Russian gang boss, with a lot of commentary on how late-stage capitalism made monsters out of men and women.
  • Soft Glass: Marla is able to kick the window of Roman's BMW out easily with her canvas sneaker, despite being underwater.
  • Smug Snake: Marla is as remorseless and arrogant as she is cruel.
  • Storming the Castle: Roman's men attempt this at one point at Marla's retirement home to save his mother but are foiled by bad luck and the police.
  • Straw Feminist: Marla is fond of telling Fran that she won't be intimidated by men or their threats, which overlooks that this man in question is threatening Marla because his mom is left alone, terrified, and without anyone to help her. She pays for this.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Marla's reaction to learning she is dealing with dangerous people is believing she'll get more money out of this, even when they start sending assassins. Fran calls her out on this.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Marla and Fran are a loving lesbian couple but also business partners and con-artists who imprison the elderly to steal from them.
  • The Unsmile: The care home workers greet Jennifer with very unsettling smiles.
  • Villainous Friendship: Marla was genuinely friends with Dr Amos, and is genuinely saddened by her death. She even brings it up during her next visit to Jennifer.
  • Villain in a White Suit: In the final scene, Marla rocks a white suit as she goes for a walk and runs across a forgotten enemy.
  • Villain Respect: Dean Ericson admits to Marla that he's impressed with her scam, calling it "the American Dream".
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Marla goads Jennifer into choking her and uses that as an excuse to make Jennifer look insane.
  • White Shirt of Death: Marla wears a white suit when she gets shot at the end.

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