There is something incredibly unhinged about seeing Rosamund Pike in a blunt cut bob, I just automatically knew this film was going to take me on a ride of twists and turns. Marla Grayson, Rosamund Pike, is a self-proclaimed care professional alongside her love interest and partner in crime Fran (played by Eiza Gonzalez). Together they hunt down “the world’s most vulnerable,” AKA the elderly, and appeal for legal guardianship of them in return for all of their accumulated wealth.
This film is literally a twisted game of Russian roulette set in a care home. Picture this: Marla’s built a well thought out scheme of draining the bank accounts of the elderly, not only does she use her connections to become the legal guardian of her older targets but she also owns the care home which she sends them to. Whilst she is collecting money from each patient she successfully registers into the care home, she swiftly begins the process of emptying out their homes and putting them on the property market before their loved ones even realise. Marla is always one step ahead. From the beginning of the film right to the end I was forced to watch as her ego and solutions became more unhinged, as she bribed doctors to give phoney dementia diagnosis’ and over prescribing patients who were already fit and healthy before undergoing her care.
Honestly, who better to play a well calculated anti-villain than Rosamund Pike, why is she so good at playing these villains that you cannot help but fall in love with? We do not want to know the type of person that Rosamund Pike plays a little too well, she recently revealed that she buries her acting awards in her garden reveals how her slightly bizarre behaviour mirrors those of the characters she plays.
For me, it’s her calm tone when she’s subtly narrating and guiding you through the film's story. Despite the chaos that she is creating for herself, being threatened to release one of her patients by the mafia, she remains unbothered whilst simultaneously laughing in the face of danger. Her almost innocent appearance is the perfect poker face. On one hand, you want her wicked plans to fail but because the film is from the villain’s point of view you find yourself secretly cheering for her success and it is unbearable, but I kept watching.
In Pike’s equally sinister portrayal in Gone Girl as Amy Dunne, a love scorned wife seeking revenge, vendetta is her driving force whereas for Marla it is success. However, both women rely on the kindness of strangers, they put on the mask of innocence to gain the trust of the people who they want to use.
Having watched both movies it's hard not to draw parallels between Marla and Amy, both of these women are ruthless and will finish what they have started. In I Care a Lot, we also see Marla visit a 24-hour shop and give herself a makeover. These two scenes remind me of an invisibility cloak that every villain owns, they change one thing and apparently no one knows who they are? The blunt bob is definitely a key component in showing the character arc in both of these women.
Opposite to the story of Samson, the haircut gives them more fuel as seen in the famous monologue in Gone Girl where she drives to the 7/11 and gives herself a haphazard haircut and a peroxide dye job. Once Amy has cut her hair she appears older and more capable of following through her initial plan because in order for it to work she has to become a new version of herself, one that is unrecognisable and leaves no connections to the life and person she’s leaving behind. Marla is introduced to us with this similar bob, for me it symbolised an older more mature Amy who isn't running anymore but is now comfortable and well established in the new life she has created for herself. Pike plays with cosmetic changes in her characters that women can relate to, like cutting your hair after a break up, to demonstrate the character stepping into a new phase in their life.
Watching both Marla and Amy create chaos in their lives with no regard for the consequences of their actions reminds me how we love to hate a villain. Like Joaquin Phoenix's performance in The Joker, the importance of these films from the point of view of the villain is that we’re taken on a journey through their backstory which reveals their character arc. The characters move from one dimensional “bad guys” to people with emotions, who were hurt and are now creating their own happy ending.
Marla’s character arc doesn't portray or hint at a sob story of hardship in her younger years, instead she appears well aware of the decisions that she’s making and proud of herself. She’s determined to not only be a professional con woman but also craves the accolades and recognition for her efforts.
I found myself falling in love with the madness even after escaping a sinking car after being kidnapped by the skin of her teeth, the only thing on her mind is going back into the office and making more money. As you start to understand her motives, even if you initially disagree, you cannot help but silently root for her.