It would be wrong to suggest that Rosamund Pike hasn’t enjoyed a hugely successful career.
After all, she did make her on-screen debut in a James Bond film, 2002's Die Another Day. Since then, she has starred opposite Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher, shone in both A United Kingdom and A Private War, while she even earned a Best Actress Academy Award nomination after stealing every one of her scenes in Gone Girl.
Yet, her talent is so obvious and endless, it feels as though Pike should be leading a new film every year, and Netflix's I Care a Lot is the latest proof of her brilliance on screen.
Clearly the rest of the film industry agrees, too, as she has already been nominated for a Best Actress award at this year’s Golden Globes for her portrayal of the horrendously devious Marla Grayson. The legal guardian to dozens of elderly women, Grayson uses her close relationships with doctors, care home workers and judges to take control of their finances in their final years.
When we first see Grayson she is going toe to toe with the son of her latest victim in court. She knows exactly how to play the legal game, and is able to defeat him with such imperious ease it immediately showcases just how calculated and cunning the character is, while also establishing the cynical tone that flows throughout the entire film.
The more we see Grayson excelling as a thief dressed in expensive clothing, the more impressive, as well as terrifying, she becomes. Not only is she doing the wrong thing, but she’s doing it with a smile and getting away with it so easily.
Writer and director J Blakeson does a superb job at hooking viewers in with her despicable antics. Initially, he shows us the reaction Grayson’s actions provoke, before introducing us to her new target and then breaking down the ins and outs that lead to her becoming their legal guardian.
As a result, you're constantly made to ask questions, which I Care a Lot answers accordingly without ever drowning the audience in needless information. The action is then set against a backdrop of bright locations, colourful sets, alluring cinematography and a hypnotic soundtrack that constantly acts as a reminder of the film's menace.
This is where Peter Dinklage mysteriously enters the fray as the unknown son of Grayson's current mark. He just so happens to be a gangster in hiding. Unsurprisingly, the Game of Thrones veteran manages to be both threatening and hilarious, sometimes at the same time, while also sporting a superb man-bun.
At this point, around the halfway mark of I Care a Lot, Dinklage's presence instantly elevates what had already been an engrossing dark comedy. It quickly becomes apparent that, like Grayson, he has very few, if any, redeeming features, and every character in the film is despicable.
That isn't a problem until I Care a Lot starts to incorporate action scenes, turning into a thriller. During these sequences, which are supposed to be tense and exhilarating, there's no one to root for as everyone deserves their comeuppance.
As a result, you're left feeling numb and uninvested for the entire final act, turning what could have been a great film into something more mediocre. Sure, Pike's brilliance means I Care a Lot is always watchable. But considering just how enjoyable and gripping it was for its first hour, it's impossible not to be disappointed by its failed attempt to up the ante, which only makes it fall flat.
I Care a Lot is on Netflix now