Rosamund Pike recently received a Golden Globe for her portrayal of the cunning, utterly amoral Marla Grayson in the Netflix thriller “I Care a Lot”. Marla skillfully and confidently plays the system to get the elderly out of their savings – until the son of her last victim (Peter Dinklage) begins to pay attention. It’s a dagger of a performance that comes from a piece with the screenwriter and director J Blakeson’s film, a “nifty, wild caper” dominated by bold visual and sonic choices and a humor as black as Marlas Outfits.
In a video call from his home in London, Blakeson discussed some of the photos, songs and films that inspired him while working on “I Care a Lot”.
“Jackie Brown” (1997) by Quentin Tarantino
Like Pikes Marla, Pam Grier’s title character is a clever master of the double cross and controls this extremely entertaining crime thriller. “This is a film that I talked about a lot with my cameraman [Doug Emmett] and my production designer [Michael Grasley]”Said Blakeson.” Sonically it felt like a good touchstone of where we might land. “
As a flight attendant, Jackie Brown spends much of the film in her uniform. “She’s got that blue suit she’s wearing and every now and then you see it right on that bright green wall,” Blakeson said. “The joy I get is similar to the joy I get when I see some of those Godard films that show people in bright yellow or bright red or bright blue against a neutral background, and they really are in that one Kind of Technicolor / Kodachrome palette. In “Jackie Brown” she has a job where she always wears the same clothes, but you get that iconic look that she wears throughout the movie. And I really wanted Marla to feel iconic and memorable as a character – more of a very cinematic than a realistic character. “
This renowned Belgian photographer is an important influence on the imagery of “I Care a Lot”. “It’s more or less street photography, but the real world is really colorful and really interestingly framed,” said the director. “There’s a photo where the yellow lines are really light and someone in a brightly colored coat is walking down the street. It looks orchestrated, but it’s not. Our world is colorful, we just don’t see it because we don’t stop and look at it very closely. “
Marla herself benefits from people who don’t look, which increases her self-confidence. “She has big windows in her office and you can only look inside; She knocks on the door of a blue house in a yellow suit, ”Blakeson said. “She doesn’t hide in a dark corner – she does it outdoors.”
“Rid of Me” by PJ Harvey
Blakeson was listening to music at the gym when the title track of PJ Harvey’s second album (1993) really hit him. “The beginning of the song is very quiet so you turn it up to try to hear it and all of a sudden it comes to the chorus and blows your head off,” he said. “I started thinking of someone trying to kill Marla and she won’t die. The section where she escapes a car underwater was written on my mind when I heard ‘Rid of Me’. Just a basic idea of, “I won’t go away, I won’t get hit.” When she gets out of the water, she screams – it’s like singing along to ‘Rid of Me’. “
Pike asked the music-loving director to compile a list of songs Marla would have heard as a teenager, and it included many rock tracks from the 1990s from bands like Ministry. “She sent me a text that said, ‘I think I was caught speeding up because I was listening to your playlist,” Blakeson said.
“Ace in the Hole” by Billy Wilder
A longtime admirer of the director of Double Indemnity and The Apartment, Blakeson singled out his pitch-black 1951 film about a corrupt journalist, Chuck Tatum (Kirk Douglas), who takes advantage of an accident that left a man trapped in a prison collapse , even prolong the ordeal. “He was such a mercenary, would do such disgustingly manipulative things for his own benefit,” Blakeson said of Tatum. “His ambition is to drive and he is just a passenger.”
This is of course very similar to Marla, whose recklessness and fearlessness come to the fore in a confrontation with Dinklage’s character. “Usually the woman in the movies cries and begs for her life, but Marla sees it as an opportunity to give her elevator seat to a wealthy person,” Blakeson said. “There’s a little bit of ‘Ace in the Hole’ where he’s trying to calm the guy down underground and he’s lying because he could actually only get him out very quickly. This kind of manipulation of people is really interesting to me. “
Another photographic influence was the meticulously staged images by this American artist. “There’s a sense of the surreal, but it’s dramatic and melodramatic,” Blakeson said. “There is an enforced absurdity that we wanted to make [film] a little bit. Like Jennifer [Dianne Wiest] goes to the nursing home with these muted colors – all these nurses are offering their chocolates and smiling at them, this kind looks weird and surreal and unsettling. Also certain moments in the scene with Peter and Rosamund in the quarry. The lighting is blue and red and like Giallo [films] or so. We really wanted to move it forward. “
“Love on a Real Train” by Tangerine Dream
This German electronic band began as an underground provider of so-called cosmic rock before breaking into the mainstream with their dreamy, repetitive contributions to films from the 1980s such as “Risky Business” – where this track appears.
“‘Love on a real train’ makes me think of the future and the past at the same time,” said Blakeson. “They feel like there’s ambition there: the world will somehow be a better place if we join the American dream.”
This feeling is often reflected with ominous undertones in Marc Canham’s pulsating electronic score for “I Care a Lot”. While working on the film, Canham the composer and Blakeson mentioned minimalist composers Philip Glass and Steve Reich, titles like Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman” from the early 1980s, and more recent abstract electronic works by Aphex Twin and Orbital, but Tangerine Dream was a constant. “There is a very dreamlike quality that is nostalgic and wistful, but also cold and calculating, and this is a film about capitalism and business,” said Blakeson of “Risky Business.”
“Obviously it’s a very different take on the deal than I Care a Lot,” he added with a laugh.