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Netflix’s “I Care A Lot” is a fast-paced and comedic thriller, following Marla Grayson – a court-appointed guardian for the elderly – whose sweet demeanor in court covers a cutthroat drive for success at the expense of innocent people, as she finds herself tied up with villains even worse than her. Thinking they’ve found a woman with ample inheritance and no heirs; Grayson and her partner soon find that their victim has connections to dangerous people.

Rosamund Pike, who plays Grayson, calls back to her starring role in “Gone Girl” (2014) in playing the part of a cunningly dangerous female protagonist, shifting between a sweet, trustworthy looking woman and a cold-hearted “Wolf of Wallstreet” type at the drop of a hat.

It’s not common to have a protagonist who is so irredeemably immoral. There was no struggle between a “good guy” and a “bad guy” but rather the clash between two unrelated villains when their paths happen to collide.

This film is the prime example of one of my favorite sub-genres of media – thrillers centered around the female psyche that are unafraid to explore messy, ugly characters. Staples of the subgenre include Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” and Paula Hawkin’s “Girl on the Train,” stories that delve into complex female characters who are immoral, twisted, and human.

The decision to have Grayson be a queer woman presents an interesting conflict. On one hand, casual queer representation that isn’t based entirely on sexuality is refreshing. To have gay women shown on screen, so comfortable in their relationships that it’s hardly even delved into presents a sense of normalization that’s important. Not every queer character needs to have a coming-out storyline or to face homophobia in their workplace to validate or justify the inclusion of their queerness.

On the other hand, the film highlights the very worst kind of millennial corporate woman, using money and power for personal gain and using feminism as a justification. Visually, Grayson is shown as the very picture of a morally corrupt modern woman; her conspicuous vape pen made an appearance in a comical amount of scenes, paralleling the traditional “villain with a cigarette” look at every opportunity.  

The very core of her character is to represent a moral decay in a society that will value monetary gain over human life without blinking an eye, all in a crisp corporate setting. What leaves a sour taste in my mouth is the idea that her sexuality contributes to that moral decay.

Not every queer character needs to be a good person, the queerness of this character should not have been intended to contribute to her characterization as morally corrupt.

The ending represents an interesting conundrum for the viewer – at the end of the film, when a character who has proven time and time again to be unapologetically power-hungry and inhumane seems to be coming out of the fight unscathed and successful, the tone of the film almost makes you glad for it. It’s not often that you watch a movie and don’t root for the protagonist even a little, so seeing her success feels uplifting for just a moment.

Then, to be let down so sharply from that strange high with a blunt, anticlimactic death brought on by an insignificant character from the first act, whose only demonstrated characteristic was raging misogyny, bursts the bubble. After having followed the story of Marla throughout the film and watching her overcome impossible feats of strength and resilience, seeing her be taken down in such an anticlimactic way feels demeaning. At the same time, it’s impossible to mourn for a character like her. 

It’s a complex and thrilling ride from start to finish, with sharp, funny dialogue to contrast the dark themes and enough moral ambiguity to keep you thinking about it for hours.

Maggie Roth

George Mason University '22

Maggie Roth is a senior at George Mason from Cape May, New Jersey. She is studying Communication with a concentration in Journalism and a minor in Social Justice. In addition to working with Her Campus, Maggie is the Culture Editor for Mason’s student newspaper, the Fourth Estate. Alongside a passion for writing and social justice, she loves baking and experimenting with different forms of crafting!
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