SPOILER ALERT: This article contains major spoilers from I Care A Lot and its ending. Read no further if you haven't seen the Netflix movie yet.
I Care A Lot on Netflix is the story of Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike), a woman so ambitious that she’s willing to exploit the elderly to gain wealth and status. Directed and written by J Blakeson, I Care A Lot is a black-comedy that satirizes the extremes some people go to to come out on top. I Care A lot features Rosamund Pike in one of her best performances as the ruthless and cunning Marla, and the film has an equally strong supporting cast made up of Peter Dinklage, Dianne Wiest, and Eiza González. The I Care A lot ending offers a conclusion that gives Marla exactly what she wants but at a cost.
I Care A lot follows Marla, a woman who uses the court system to take over guardianship of elderly people. She then strips and sells their assets. Marla believes she has found a “cherry,” a semi-wealthy elderly person without any living relatives, when she discovers Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest). However, Jennifer is not what she seems and Marla finds herself facing her first real opponent. I Care A lot is a twisty film that keeps you guessing all the way until the end. Let’s look at the I Care A lot ending and some of the themes and messages of the film.
What Happened At The End Of I Care A Lot?
The I Care A lot ending really begins when Marla and Roman (Peter Dinklage) are face-to-face for the first time. He makes a failed attempt to kill Marla and girlfriend Fran (Eiza González). Marla retaliates by setting a plan in motion to take over the guardianship of Roman. She kidnaps him, drugs him, and then strips him and leaves him naked in the middle of the woods and road.
A runner finds Roman and he’s taken to the ER. When he wakes, he finds Marla sitting by his bed. She explains because he’s a John Doe (having faked his own death) who almost overdosed, he was appointed a guardianship. She’s been assigned to be his guardian. Marla has won.
She wants Roman to transfer 10 Million dollars into her bank account and she’ll let him and his mother free. Roman agrees to her terms but also makes her an offer: they go into business together. He wants to make a corporation under her name. She’ll have guardianships, pharmacies, drug companies, and care facilities all under one Grayson name.
Marla agrees to it. Cut to the rise and thriving of Grayson Guardianship Marla has everything she wants, but then one day after an interview, Feldstrom (Macon Blair), a man who Marla has a confrontation with at the beginning of I Care A lot, shows up. Marla took control of his mother and wouldn’t let him see her. Feldstrom tells Marla that his mother died alone in a care home because he couldn’t see her. He then shoots her. Marla (seemingly) dies in her now-wife Fran’s arms.
How I Care A Lot Let’s Marla Win And The Audience Win
I Care A lot does a good job of presenting you with two monsters (three if you count capitalism), then asking you to pick your fighter. Marla and Roman both have no moral compass and will use and abuse anyone they need to to get their power and wealth. Both are monsters but not psychopaths as they’re both emotionally attached to at least one person. At least once in I Care A lot, the film seems to want you to root for Marla.
She’s the protagonist and the one facing off against people trying to kill her. Some people will find themselves rooting for Marla, and others will root for Roman to kill her. Either way, the viewer is drawn into this devious world and may feel compelled to root for what they deem a fair ending, but as Marla often says, there is no fair in this world.
However, I think the I Care A lot ending satisfies viewers in one way or another, whether you’re rooting for or against Marla. As Rosamund Pike addresses, the ending gives you everything. Marla wins by getting Grayson Guardianship corporation but then she dies, so people who want to believe in karma and justice being served, sort of get that with Marla’s death. However, the damages she has caused can’t be undone now. People will still suffer, Marla just won’t be the direct cause.
Female Empowerment In I Care A Lot?
Marla is the most clever person in I Care A lot, and part of the reason why she’s so smart is because she knows how to game the system. Not just the legal system, but the system of life that labels and stereotypes women. Marla is able to play the part of the generous, caring woman who just wants to help the elderly because people assume that most women are kind, nurturing, generous, and self-sacrificing.
Jennifer is also able to manipulate people into thinking she’s this sweet old lady, when she’s just as ruthless as her son and Marla. Throughout I Care A lot, we see these female characters (from the doctor to the female assassin) who are able to be corrupt and devious because of how society underestimates women. Women in I Care A lot are also shown as the most competent characters, especially compared to the male characters who often get outplayed.
For me, the parallel with those two characters is that both of them are artfully able to manipulate traditional feminine tropes and play with them and convincingly deploy them to their own gain.
She further stated this about Marla:
Marla is able to pass herself off as very reasonable and caring and disciplined and conscientious and all these things that she’s not. The performative aspect of these characters is what appeals to me, and the fact that they take a Machiavellian pleasure in their own cleverness.
Women are able to succeed in the I Care A lot world because they know how to use these female stereotypes to their advantage. I Care A Lot is all about giving women the equal rights to be awful too.
The Way Predators Stay on Top In I Care A Lot
I Care A Lot director J Blakeson told Moveable Fest that the idea for the film came about because he read an article about predatory legal guardians. He then went down a rabbit hole of news stories about the elderly and vulnerable being used and abused because of the legal ways that make this activity possible. Marla is able to thrive because she knows how to make the law work in her favor. Roman is able to thrive because he knows how to engage in criminal activity that allows him to avoid the law.
They operate using different methods but in the end, they’re both still predators.
I Care A lot does a good job of showing how the rich and powerful often are not much different than organized crime, they just know how to game the legal system to work in their favor. Criminals and major corporations often exploit the poor, just in different ways.
In the case of the plot of I Care A Lot, the healthcare and justice systems work in a way that allows the wealthy to exploit the poor and weak. In some ways, Marla sees her way of doing things is the right way. She’s annoyed when Roman kills and uses crime to get his way. She thinks that because she operates the legal way, then she’s playing fair. And as much as Marla doesn’t believe in fair, she believes in the system and law working in her favor.
In the same Vogue interview, Rosamund Pike offered this insight into the systems in I Care A Lot:
Maybe the real villain of the piece is the system, which is set up for people like Marla to win.