There is a fine line between villains and heroes in many great films. It’s tough not to root for these anti-heroes even though their behavior is in large part reprehensible. Marla Grayson (played with relish by Rosamund Pike) starts off in I Care a Lot as someone to loathe. Her entrapment of the elderly in a complex web of custodianship to drain them of their savings is legal, entirely believable, and utterly repugnant.
By the end of I Care a Lot, Marla’s weapon of choice is a taser, but when we meet her it is her wardrobe, her bob and her shades. Her level of stylishness and physical perfection convey goodness and expertise. She is a wolf in sheep’s clothing – specifically merino wool pant suits tailored to a razor’s edge. Her selection of clear acetate, dark lensed glasses hide the eyes that MIGHT give away the lie her megawatt smile is selling to her victims. To anyone who’s ever had a mother or a father (so, everyone) her Modus Operandi is vile. And yet…
We come to root for her when she is pitted against someone we think more ruthless. A man who’s utter disregard for human life and barely contained seething anger is scary as shit. But Marla does not blink, and everything he throws at her only elicits a more nuanced and devious response. We root for her because naked ambition – or, sociopathy – is rewarded in men and punished in women. We root for her because she takes care of her own. We root for her because, though she does ruthless and evil things, we’ve rooted for male anti-heroes who’ve done worse and with way less style.
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