Written & Directed By: J. Blakeson
Cinematography: Doug Emmett
Editor: Mark Eckersley
Cast: Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eiza Gonzalez, Dianne Wiest, Alicia Witt, Chris Messina, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Macon Blair, Damian Young, Nicholas Logan
A crooked legal guardian who drains the savings of her elderly wards meets her match when a woman she tries to swindle turns out to be more than she first appears.
This can easily be a polarizing film. On the one hand you have a savvy businesswoman who makes her career conning people out of their livelihood. So no one was ever going to find her likable or an adequate anti-hero.
Though we have seen films before where we have male protagonists who do the same thing and are more remembered and celebrated by audiences. Even if they are more disposable and waste the money on frivolous luxuries and vices.
What is more upsetting for an audience here is that not only is the protagonist doing this female. Where usually films treat female characters like her as damaged or coming around at the last minute or femme Fatales who get a comeuppance. More or less she keeps striving no matter the challenge or difficulty and ultimately what she traps comes back to her in worse ways. The same is never made of the antiheroes who are male in other films; they get a snack down but never so severe.
Though truth be told those movies are usually more based on specific people and cases. Here this is a made-up story of a very real cool. Games that are happening more and more. Only for intents and purposes here do we get a face with this type of crime. As well as more of a story.
What also might be upsetting is that in real-life cases there are faces and representatives of the victims. Usually late in the films when they are winding down. For us to realize the destruction and evils of the character even if not planned what the end results of their con games are for some. Here they are picking on the already defenseless the elderly. Which is the equivalent of kicking or torturing an animal on screen these days. Instantly turning the audience against your protagonist. Especially if they were being attacked by them.
So this film already gives you an unlikeable protagonist but also the film is filled with unlikeable characters. Even when you might start to feel for some of them. They show their true colors and you go right back to hating them.
I applaud throwing the audience off but when there is no one to root for. As the characters seem to compete for who is the worst and trying to make excuses for their behavior. It’s not really enjoyable even for a dark comedy.
The film is trying to tackle a subject and knows the best way to inform the audience is from an insider. As the film might be cynical but doesn’t offer false notes. As everyone is flawed and there is no heart of gold that comes through. This film presents a more scrubbed clean dog eat dog world. That is all about survival above all else.
It’s not necessarily an enjoyable film but like the characters it tries to make you as comfortable as you can be while watching these events unfold and tries to add some humor to the proceedings
Rosamund Pike is excellent in the starring role. Even though it seems every few years she plays this type of role. A character who at first seems like a pushover but then reveals herself to be a shark. So it’s refreshing to see her play such strong female characters every so often. Making you wonder why she isn’t offered more roles. It might be as in these roles she comes off as threatening usually to male protagonists. Some might feel uncomfortable casting her in easier or less challenging roles?
Though at least the film is thought-provoking and wouldn’t expect anything else from writer Director J. Blakeson, Especially after his film THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED
The film is upsetting for anyone looking for good to conquer evil. It is a dark and cynical comedy with heavy overtones. Though it isn’t bad or disappointing, just unlikeable.