I Care A Lot Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

As we all know, films can be a representation of society. Which means, that there can be genuinely good people as protagonists, or morally flawed, complex and bad people as protagonists. Some films want to showcase these disturbed protagonists with ideologies that counter the government or any system put in place. I Care a Lot introduced us to Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike), a court assigned legal guardian, to the elderly, in their time of need. What Grayson does, is take hold of her clients assets and drains them of their savings. Could there be people out there who do this? Well, we sure as hell found out in this film.

This film shows the perseverance and ambition in achieving the American Dream. Grayson had been poor her whole life and in her eyes, the only way to gain more of a financial status is by cheating the system. Rosamund Pike was perfectly cast as Grayson, no one else could have played this role. Pike has mastered the role of a morally conflicted woman, with a flawed perception of society, who eventually executes the ideas in her head, in a very disturbing way. Sure, Pike only has Amy Dunne as a character that can be referred to, but Marla Grayson is in that tier performance wise. If Pike is so good delivering these roles to us, then why don’t we have her in more films that center on a layered protagonist such as this one?

The film had such a great cast. Pike, obviously steals the spotlight but Eiza Gonzalez, Peter Dinklage, Chris Messina and Dianne Wiest all went toe-to-toe with her. Pike was great on her own, with her vape pen, and famous smirk that showed, she was thinking about the next five steps. Even though Gonzalez had a small role, her chemistry with Pike was a stand out. When Pike shared scenes with Wiest, Dinklage and Messina, they all presented different levels of power and she matched all of them. It is an exciting watch because the cast elevated the script in every way. The plot twists were placed in the right spots and it didn’t lose its footing, until the third act.

I Care a Lot has a really twisted perception of the meaning of a court appointed legal guardian. Even though Marla Grayson does some very questionable things, we can still understand where she is coming from. Again, it is not sympathizing with the flawed protagonist, it is more so enjoying the performances of these bad people and hoping they get paid their due. It is a humorous thriller, with many exciting scenes, strong pieces of dialogue and multiple endings that will leave you stunned. The film is purely a showcase for how talented this cast is and a reminder that Rosamund Pike is a force to be reckoned with.

Rebecca (2020) Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Ben Wheatley’s Rebecca is a slow psychological thriller, with a love story at its center. Love can be masked in so many ways and people pay the price for being blinded by their partner. Love can also whisk you away into situations that you wouldn’t have ever imagined. Lily James and Armie Hammer are perfectly cast as Maxim de Winter and Mrs. de Winter, they had great chemistry to carry out this film to the very end.

The one thing that people seem to ignore, is that Armie Hammer has this air about him – as this tall, beautiful man, who any woman would instantly fall in love with. He has those features and utilized them as Maxim de Winter. What really worked, was the way Lily James played into his persona, she was infatuated with him. She wanted him more than life itself, you could see it in her eyes and the way her body moved with his. The infatuation and lust for Maxim was definitely felt, all thanks to Lily James.

I was more taken aback with James’ performance because of how physical and emotional it was. Her body language was really interesting to watch and you’re able to feel everything she was feeling. She truly gave such a strong performance and it was great seeing this side of her. She also went toe to toe with Mrs. Danvers (Kristin Scott Thomas), who also gave a fantastic performance. Women were at the forefront, whether it was the newlywed, the house manager, or the ex wife, the presence of a woman’s energy was always felt and it was great.

Courtesy of Netflix Film
(left) Armie Hammer as Maxim de Winter and Lily James as Mrs. de Winter

I’ve always been a fan of Ben Wheatley’s work and his direction for Rebecca was unique to his style. The only thing that may have been off sync for me, was the editing in this film. I felt like it jumped quite a lot and I understood the choices that were made but for some reason it didn’t translate well for me. The costume and production design, were probably my favourite aspects of the film because of how beautifully detailed everything was.

Rebecca has great performances, a strong score and a very interesting story with a twist ending. The most important thing about the film is how one perceives love as perfection. It seems that whoever falls in love (especially those hopeless romantics) have a skewed perception of the one they’re with. It doesn’t happen to everyone, majority of the time we can’t find that perfect person, but someone who comes close to the idea of perfection.

Make sure to check out Rebecca on Netflix October 21st!

Midsommar Review and Analysis

Ari Aster’s sophomore film is much more inventive than Hereditary and has undertones of grief in all forms. People often associate grief with death, but it can also be applied to any loss and the emotional journey in which that takes you on.

Florence Pugh delivers a very honest, innocent and internal performance that is very beautiful to sit through. Her energy is just so pure that from the very beginning of the film you just want to protect her at all costs.

This being said, Ari Aster is a wonderful filmmaker, the camerawork and cinematography were absolutely stunning, for a film that is so eerie and graphic to take place in an open field in broad daylight was very different and I commend him for that. Most horror films (I do not consider this a horror in any sense whatsoever but it’s still classified as one and marketed as one) have such a dark setting that it’s almost impossible to understand what is happening at certain moments. In Midsommar everything was laid out in front of the camera allowing audiences to vividly see the gore and deaths. He tried to do something different and I respect the way he told the story visually.

The issue I have with Hereditary and Midsommar is that the cult symbolism in both films do not directly correlate to the thematic undertones. Both films started with themes of family dysfunction and grief but ended in a very different place. At least with Midsommar it was more cohesive as a narrative because Dani and Christian’s relationship was already on the rocks, so the ending somewhat made sense. There is very little explanation as to why these characters end up in these cult situations and I just think that he can elaborate more when trying to come up with a shocking third act finale.

I also feel that the lead characters do not get the chance to ever build on their repressed emotions. It was hard to watch Dani take what Christian was giving her and she was just very nonchalant about how he was treating her. The smirk she gave at the end of the film was too subtle considering the action that she was forced to do.

I also understand that Ari also chose to show the 5 stages of grief throughout the film:

Denial – the initial reaction after her parents and sister die, she was screaming and she did not want to believe that it was true.

Anger – the shrooms trip that she got the first day in Sweden, she was extremely angry

Bargaining – I would say that weighing the pros and cons of her relationship with Christian would fit this and the fact that she wanted to leave.

Depression – They showed her emotional state throughout

Acceptance – the third act is her processing the concept of death and then allowing herself to move forward from her old life and Christian was the last thing that tied her to her past self.

I could definitely analyze the film scene by scene, especially considering Dani and Christian’s relationship and how the major family death forcefully pushed them together and then the trip to Sweden was positioned to salvage it. There were a series of tests for Christian and he continued to fail her on an emotional level. They were disjointed from the start and she could feel him distancing himself from her. He was also very selfish and he manipulated her into thinking that he was the victim in majority of their arguments.

This film is aesthetically pleasing, the sound design is lovely and the story was better than Hereditary. Ari just has to create some sort of balance in his third act in order to bring everything together.