SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains massive spoilers for both J Blakeson’s I Care A Lot and David Fincher’s Gone Girl. If you have not seen either or only one of the movies, proceed at your own risk!
Over the years, Rosamund Pike has regularly proven herself as a consummate performer with awesome range, but there does seem to be one thing that she is remarkably good at: playing a totally evil bitch. A little over six years ago she dropped jaws around the world with her stunning and insane performance as the maniacal Amy Dunne in David Fincher’s Gone Girl, and this weekend memories of that character are coming to mind thanks to her devilish turn as Marla Greyson in J Blakeson’s I Care A Lot (which just dropped on Netflix).
Thanks to Rosamund Pike’s amazing work, it’s very likely that the two titles will wind up being tied together in pop culture history, and that’s mostly because of a compelling question: which character is more evil?
Cinephiles will likely come up with different arguments (even Rosamund Pike has thoughts on the subject), but to celebrate the release of I Care A Lot we’ve decided to break it down and determine a firm answer.
The People They Hurt
Evil doesn’t just happen in a vacuum. It becomes apparent through the pain that one is willing to inflict on others in order to achieve selfish goals. This is true for both Marla and Amy, though they have very different targets.
Who I Care A Lot’s Marla Hurts
Much like how ferocious wolves feast on helpless lambs, Marla’s method of attack is to go after the weak and helpless in society – specifically older men and women who find themselves with no recourse out from under her “care.” She has a company with an entire business model dedicated to bilking seniors out of everything they have after they are sent away to live the rest of their years in a prison-like retirement home. It’s never made explicitly clear how many individuals she has targeted in her career, but the number certainly has to be in the hundreds (certainly the thousands by the end of the film).
Who Gone Girl’s Amy Hurts
The core conflict in Gone Girl is an extremely personal one, with Amy Dunne working dutifully to destroy the life of her husband, Nick, by expertly framing him for her murder. This isn’t to say that she doesn’t hurt other people – as her disappearance takes a devastating toll on her parents; she totally manipulates her neighbor, Noelle; her awful history with Tommy O’Hara is revealed; and she straight-up slits Desi Collings’ throat – but she has one prime target in the story, and that’s Nick.
Perspective and context are important when it comes to judging a character. They don’t necessarily excuse a person’s actions, but understanding a deeper reason for why they do what they do can at least add an important dose of logic into the mix when evil actions otherwise just seem chaotic and random. Marla and Amy do have particular motivations for doing what they do… but they aren’t exactly pretty.
What I Care A Lot’s Marla Wants
There is a one word explanation for what Marla Greyson is all about: greed. In her own words, she was poor once, and it didn’t agree with her. She believes that the idea of playing fair is for suckers, and as such feels absolute freedom to game the system as much as humanly possible so that she can make as much money as possible. She does clearly have love for her partner, Fran, but you also get the sense that if push ever really came to shove, she would choose her business over Fran’s life.
What Gone Girl’s Amy Wants
Another one word explanation: revenge. As Nick Dunne discovers, Amy isn’t the kind of woman who just shirks away from conflict when she discovers that her spouse is cheating on her. Due to what seems to be some kind of undiagnosed personality disorder, she goes totally nuclear on him, executing her sinister plan that is meant to get back at him not only for infidelity, but also uprooting their life in New York and not remaining the same man that she first fell in love with.
Sympathy For The Devil
Sympathy is a potential outcome when you consider the knowledge of an individual’s actions weighed against the knowledge of their motivation for carrying them out. It’s not necessarily a persistent thing, as the scales can constantly shift, but the question here is if there is a point in either I Care A Lot or Gone Girl where you actually connect with what Rosamund Pike’s characters are doing.
Is I Care A Lot’s Marla Sympathetic?
Is it considered sympathy when you wonder if a drowning death in a sinking car is perhaps too torturous a death for an individual? Because that’s pretty much the extent of what Marla is able to conjure in I Care A Lot. She does earn a touch of respect for being a powerful woman excelling within the patriarchy, and, again, she does seem to have genuine love for Fran, but beyond that you really do spend most of the movie keeping your fingers crossed that she meets a violent end (P.S. thank you, movie!)
Is Gone Girl’s Amy Sympathetic?
It never feels wrong to cheer for the woman who dumps her boyfriend’s clothing and belongings out a window after she discovers his mistress, but what Amy does in Gone Girl is sincerely overkill. She isn’t exactly innocent when it comes to all of the conflicts in her marriage with Nick (they have some real communication problems), and it’s hard to stomach the terrible trap she snares him in at the end of the film. You feel for Amy in that Nick definitely deserves to be punished for his adultery, but he doesn’t deserve anywhere near the level of what Amy doles out, and that definitely takes away sympathy points.
Gone Girl Vs. I Care A Lot: Which Rosamund Pike Character Is More Evil?
Amy Dunne is unquestionably a dangerous sociopath, and there is no doubt that her survival at the end of Gone Girl is one of the reasons why we love to hate her so much… but if we’re being really real here, this isn’t actually much of a contest. Amy may be deeply scary, but at least she limits the pain she causes to only those who have the misfortune of entering her life and getting close to her (not to mention those who make the mistake of slighting her). I Care A Lot’s Marla Greyson is not only indiscriminate when it comes to her cancer-like operation, but it’s her aim to destroy as many lives as she possibly can. It’s really the vast contrast in scale alone that separates the two, and makes Marla distinctly the more evil of the two Rosamund Pike characters.
Do you agree with our assertion here, or do you think there’s a piece of the puzzle we’re missing? Answer our poll below, and hit the comments section with your thoughts!
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NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.