The character, Marla Grayson represents the normalization and in-corporation of mobster mentality in many modern professions. She works as a state-appointed guardian, supported by a network of complicit doctors, care home managers and a gullible judge, who legally scams the elderly. She has unsuspecting homeowners declared unfit to care for themselves and locked down in nursing facilities, while she auctions off their assets and takes a big cut for her troubles.
With her razor-sharp blonde bob, monochromatic suits, and ever-present vape pen, Marla played by Rosamund Pike (“Gone Girl”) is a woman driven by cold, hard ambition. That much would have been obvious without her opening voiceover, in which she justifies her scam: “Playing fair is a joke invented by rich people to keep the rest of us poor.” During a court hearing at the film’s start, she argues in a persuasive, clear-eyed fashion that she can more accurately assess what’s in the best interest of her clients because she has no skin in the game, unlike family members who are fraught with emotional baggage and financial expectations. To her, it’s all transactional. So when she gets the news that one of her clients has died, she pulls his headshot off the wall where it hangs among dozens of others, wads it up, and throws it in the trash without a drop of emotion.
“It’s been fun” is the last line of dialog in “I Care a Lot,” a movie billed as both a mystery, thriller and a comedy.
It’s not a comedy – at least from my point of view– and it’s hardly a “fun” movie either – but it is entertaining, thought provoking and suspenseful.
The movie doesn’t tease this premise but quickly sets up Marla as the villain. In the opening scene, she proclaims she is “not a lamb – I am a f***ing lioness,” as she struts through a courtroom and games the system, her uber-Karen haircut as razor-sharp as her cruelty.
When you cut to real life and my experience with the guardian who has control over my 92-year-old mother in New Mexico, the scene is different. The real-life villains are seedier, far less attractive, and wear polyester leisure suits that appear to be far more disheveled than some of their victims.
The real-life guardians derive strategies for keeping families separated from the person they claim to be protecting. The real-life guardians destroy Power of Attorney agreements, Wills, Family Trusts and property rights documents which are often written by their colleagues who provide Estate Planning services. The real-life guardians prey on established seniors and coordinate with select finance executives, medical professionals, and assisted-living facilities to force them into a restrictive environment against their will. Often a tweaked diagnosis from unscrupulous medical professionals that says the elder can’t safely live alone or care for themselves or allow their adult children to care for them.
In I Care a Lot, Rosamund Pike recently won a Golden Globe for Best Actress for her portrayal of a villainous woman who makes a living off the backs of unsuspecting senior citizens. Certain scenes in the movie gave me chills as I watched a step-by-step recap of the real-life situation with my mother.
In the movie, however, she messes with the wrong person, when Jennifer Peterson (Diane Wiest), who is not the sweet old lady she appears to be, and finds herself the target of Peterson’s mob boss son, Roman (Peter Dinklage).
The buzz about the movie is not a surprise. I Care a Lot appears to wade into a shocking topic, building on stories like this startling and infuriating 2017 New Yorker investigation into conservatorship abuse of older adults. New Mexico news platforms have also written about the unfair actions and blatant theft insinuated on vulnerable citizens by professional guardians all over the state; THE COURT HAS PLANS FOR YOU, 2,300 Guardianship Cases Mislabeled, Who guards the guardians? , Guardianship Firm Seized by Marshalls, Art imitates life: Insidious world of elder guardianships, Plaintiff in Guardianship case wants Judge to step aside, GUARDIANSHIP matters aren’t easy, Las Cruces educator, civil rights figure Dorris Hamilton under court-ordered guardianship, Vulnerable New Mexico elders find themselves trapped in guardianship and the list of investigative news stories giving warnings to New Mexico citizens goes on and on.
The film also bears all the hallmarks of a good thriller tale: It has the cool aesthetics, it reveals a real-life loophole that is currently being exploited and there is a heart-pounding exhilaration of waiting for the scammer’s downfall.
In real-life, in New Mexico, those laws recently enacted to protect the vulnerable and their families are allegedly ignored by Judges all over the state. Court-appointed guardians spin the law and use the loopholes to protect themselves. In the movie and in real life, the guardian motto is – I Care A Lot About The Money.