i care a lot (2021)
Who's afraid of getting old?
Manila, 22 February—In the new Netflix film “I Care A Lot”, Rosamund Pike cons seniors out of their homes and auctions off their properties, claiming “legal guardianship”. In it, she plays Marla Grayson, and she is very good at what she does.
Warning: Spoilers after trailer!
Marla Grayson knows she’s not a good person, and she thinks neither are you. Her enterprise’s business model is basically built upon preying over vulnerable seniors, using an intricate network of contacts, from doctors to retirement homes to property valuators, to real estate agents. Everything is above-board, of course—it’s even legitimized via a court order. She pushes these seniors into retirement homes, cuts them off from family, and auctions off their houses to pay for said retirement, and of course, herself. Because caring is her job, and it entails a professional fee.
Things go sideways when she chances upon a senior seemingly living on her own, sitting on a lot of cash, with no family to speak of. In other words, Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest) is by all indications “a cherry”. She colludes with Jennifer’s doctor Dr. Amos, forces an “emergency hearing” and is finally granted legal guardianship by the court. She heads to her house the following morning to escort Jennifer off the property and into the retirement home (managed by another contact) and then proceeds to empty her house and sell it. Easy.
Only Jennifer Peterson is supposedly off-limits—or so a very expensive-looking lawyer Dean Ericson (Chris Messina) comes to tell her. This sets off a wild ride in which Marla and her girlfriend/partner-in-crime Fran (Eiza Gonzalez, who has that 90’s/Gia-era Angelina Jolie-vibe down pat for this movie) find themselves living the high life and nearly dying. And then some.
Because apparently, Jennifer Peterson—who has secretly stashed a bag of diamonds in a bank safety deposit box somewhere—is not who she says she is. And her son Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage, who is !!!!), currently in hiding from organized crime elements(?) but is decidedly very scary himself, judging by the power he exercises over his own set of armed body guards and goons, is coming for her.
A lot of times throughout this film, we really thought Marla is going to Get It. Like, several times in this film, we went, Shit. There’s no way a lesbian would survive this. Because they simply don’t—lesbians have died for less, non-plot-furthering matters. We honest-to-goodness laughed when Marla’s car got driven off a cliff to stage her death—thank god for all that rage spinning in spin class hm? How else was she supposed to be able to keep her breath in for that long underwater and exert enough effort to kick the back of her car’s window??? And swim right out of the freezing water?? With enough (wet) dollar bills in her pocket to pay for a change of clothes and a cab?? I mean. (Although lbr, if there’s anyone who could hold a breath that long out of sheer determination, it’s got to be a lesbian.)
In an even more unbelievable turn of events, her girlfriend Fran, who was attacked in their own home and presumably was left for dead with the gas fucking on in the kitchen, actually lived! And they were able to escape RIGHT BEFORE THEIR APARTMENT EXPLODED! Ok, so maybe Lunyov needs better goons? Idk, they were pretty sloppy. Cersei would definitely have them beheaded, jsyk.
So yeah, of course our two tenacious lesbians go for revenge. (There’s a brief celebratory (??) shower scene that made us go, Oh lord, not the shower scene we were expecting, no?) ANYWAY Marla dons this fantastic wig that makes her look like fucking Giorgia Lupi1 (whom we adore! I loved the hair!) and takes out both of Lunyov’s security men with a taser (!) after which she injects Lunyov with something. They drive him into the woods and they overdose him and leave him naked in the woods and they burn his Jeep and laugh and I love my scheming criminal lesbians.
Eventually, Lunyov gets found by a jogger, taken to the hospital, where he is logged as a record-less “John Doe”—and, get this, is automatically turned over to the state for “legal guardianship”. WHAT A WORLD WE LIVE IN. WHAT A SCAM.
Lunyov and Marla then strike a ceasefire by basically laying out their plans for a nationwide, hyper-scaled up, senior defrauding scheme with 80-plus offshore companies and I’m just here taking notes, because I can name a couple of local moguls who can very well pull off something like that, because they’re in hospitals and utilities and real estate and, well, if you’re building subdivisions next to memorial parks, I guess you’re already halfway there anyway?
So yeah. Marla is 39, she’s at the helm of this gigantic corporation, she’s on everyone’s 40 under 40 lists, and then bam—she gets shot by a disgruntled family member of one of the seniors she’d put away sometime ago. Alas. Turns out, it was always going to be somebody else’s son pulling the trigger.
I can’t say I’m pleased about another lesbian dying2 by being shot—After all these years, still not bulletproof. Lesbians, indeed. But it was satisfying in its own way. Actions have consequences, after all; why should rich, white, powerful lesbians be exempt from them?
PS. Here’s the New Yorker article on which this film was based: How the Elderly Lose their Rights3.
PPS. But yeah. Have a few more Eiza Gonzalez/Rosamund Pike material, because why the hell not.
Here, have a poem.
By Hera Lindsay Bird
the other day i was thinking about the term pyramid scheme, and why they called it pyramid scheme and not triangle scheme
and i asked you what you thought
you thought it added a certain gravitas, and linked the idea of
with some of history’s greatest architectural achievements
unconsciously suggesting a silent wealth of gold and heat
a triangle is two dimensional, and therefore
a less striking mental image than the idea of a third dimension of financial fraud
which is how many dimensions of financial fraud the term pyramid scheme suggests
but i had to pause for a second at the financial fraud part
because it occurred to me i didn’t know what pyramid schemes really were
i knew they had something to do with people getting money from nothing
the person at the top of the pyramid scheme, or more accurately
triangle scheme, acquires a number of investors and takes their money
and then pays the first lot of investors with the money from another bunch of investors
and so on and so forth
all the way to the bottom of the triangle
or pyramid face
which is the kind of stupid thing that happens
if you keep your money in a pyramid and not a bank account
although if you ask me banks are the real pyramid schemes after all
or was love the real pyramid scheme? i can’t remember
maybe it’s better to keep your money in a pyramid than a bank
and i should shop around and compare the interest rates on different pyramids
maybe i should open up a savings pyramid
with a whole bunch of trapdoors and malarias
to keep the financial anthropologists
i mean bankers out
my emeralds cooling under the ground like beautiful women’s eyes
i think this was supposed to be a metaphor for something
but i can’t remember where i was going with it
and now it’s been swept away by the winds of
but knowing me, it was probably love
that great dark blue sex hope that keeps coming true
that cartoon black castle with a single bird flying over it
i don’t know where this poem ends
how far below the sand
but it’s still early evening
and you and I are a little drunk
you answer the phone
you pour me a drink
i know you hate the domestic in poetry but you should have thought of that before you invited me to move in with you
i used to think arguments were the same as honesty
i used to think screaming was the same as passion
i used to think pain was meaningful
i no longer think pain is meaningful
i never learned anything good from being unhappy
i never learned anything good from being happy either
the way i feel about you has nothing to do with learning
it has nothing to do with anything
but i feel it down in the corners of my sarcophagus
i feel it in my sleep
even when i am not thinking about you
you are still pouring through my blood, like fire through an abandoned hospital ward
these coins are getting heavy on my eyes
it has been a great honor and privilege to love you
it has been a great honor and privilege to eat cold pizza on your steps at dawn
love is so stupid: it’s like punching the sun
and having a million gold coins rain down on you
which you don’t even have to pay tax on
because sun money is free money
and i’m pretty sure there are no laws about that
but i would pay tax
because i believe that hospitals and education
and the arts should be publicly funded
even this poem
when i look at you, my eyes are two identical neighborhood houses on fire
when i look at you my eyes bulge out of my skull like a dog in a cartoon
when i am with you
an enormous silence descends upon me
and i feel like i am sinking into the deepest part of my life
we walk down the street, with the grass blowing back and forth
i have never been so happy
Autostraddle. All 216 Dead Lesbian and Bisexual Characters on TV, and how they died. (March 2016) https://www.autostraddle.com/all-65-dead-lesbian-and-bisexual-characters-on-tv-and-how-they-died-312315/ (Also: I would have stabbed her.)
The New Yorker. How the Elderly Lose their Rights. (October 2017). https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/10/09/how-the-elderly-lose-their-rights
Pyramid Scheme by Hera Lindsay Bird. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/145468/pyramid-scheme