At my 60th birthday my son said a few words. It was touching and a little chilling. ‘Dad,’ he said, ‘when you’re old and grey I will be there for you… but as soon as you start dribbling into the sofa, you’re off to a home.’ A bit of a family joke, that. Wasn’t it?
I Care A Lot (Amazon Prime) is a film that makes you wonder about that. The basic premise – a steely, cold hearted professional guardian is in cahoots with local medics to have the elderly and alone (with assets) referred to her so she can fleece them through the courts – resonates with the jokey sentiment above.
But in this wonderful film there are no jokes and little love around the issue of getting old. Yes, it’s creepy, but it is also clever, funny, awful, thoughtful, thrilling, gasp out loud and laugh out loud splendid. The lead characters are played by a super charged Rosamund Pike, back to her Gone Girl best and Peter Dinklage on Game Of Thrones top form and displaying a manic comic timing up with the best.
Pike’s character ‘has no skin in the game’ so remains ‘objective’ in seeking the best for her clients to whom she is legal guardian. But these ‘cherries’ are merely assets to be stripped, entirely legally if not ethically.
And then she chooses Josephine Peterson, a little old lady with money to spare and no family and few friends. What can go wrong? Pretty much everything but is our ‘hero’ thwarted? Is she heck.
The appalling guardian and the equally if not more appalling family of Josephine are perfectly balanced creations. Where a writer-director provides their audience with a lead who is so lacking in warmth and empathy the skill is in having that audience root for them even while abhorring what they are doing. By counterpointing one level of awfulness with another, the director achieves that balance perfectly. You want neither to win, but also to not be the first to lose.
I have no idea if there is even a grain, a scintilla of truth in how the American courts deal with such emergency applications for guardianship for the infirm, the elderly and the incapable. I like to think there are appropriate checks and balances that would stop the most egregious of such exploitative cases happening in real life. But hey, we’re constantly told America is the place where anything is possible, so I easily suspended any disbelief I may have had in the name of enjoying a cracking good movie.
Just don’t let your kids see it….