Why I Care a Lot Has a Terrible Ending

By Michael Pascual 

April 6, 2024

I recently watched the movie I Care a Lot, which follows heroine Marla Grayson, who abuses the law to get rich off of elderly people in Boston, MA. The main conflict in the film is between her and the Russian Mafia, after Grayson essentially kidnaps the mother of Roman Lunyov, a member of the Russian Mafia, and steals millions of dollars of diamonds from her. What makes this movie interesting is how it follows two really bad people, which makes it very unpredictable. This film also has some incredibly impressive acting, and its fast pace keeps the plot interesting. Despite this, the writing establishes that it wants us to root for Grayson as the heroine of this story, which is my first issue with this movie. 

We see Grayson constantly fighting back against the various males in her life, which is a very good quality in a female lead. However, it does nothing to justify how cold and ruthless she is throughout, as she scams defenseless elderly people for their money. This being said, I have no issue with movies that follow a lead character who is a bad person. I think that franchises like Breaking Bad do an excellent job of this, with the main character of the show being a meth dealer who causes the deaths of hundreds of people. I believe that the reason that it works well in Breaking Bad but not I Care a Lot is due to the characters’ backstory. Walter White is given a well-developed and tragic backstory that allows the audience to sympathize with him and justify his actions. Marla Grayson however, is not, with her only motivation being her desire to be rich. The only real reason we have to root for Grayson is her impressive feminist qualities, which are completely irrelevant when compared to her complete apathy regarding the pain she causes the elderly of her city. However, I believe that Grayson’s complete unlikability could have still been utilized if it weren’t for the incredibly unsatisfying ending that the movie provides.

By the end of the movie, Grayson successfully overcomes Lunyov and becomes rich beyond her wildest dreams, having vastly expanded her scam business. In the end, she is shot and killed by the son of one of her victims while she is laughing with her wife. Defenders of this movie have claimed this poetic justice is a good ending since she ends up being killed and is unable to live out the rest of her life with her wealth. The problem is, she died after getting the life she always wanted, and left behind a business empire for people to continue the exploitation of the elderly. By letting Grayson get everything she wants, the movie alienates the audience and makes her death seem pointless. This death is made even less satisfying when compared with a quote from Grayson previously in the movie, “[Roman] You’re not afraid of death?

[Marla] Do you remember how scary it was in 1807? No, me neither because I wasn’t alive yet. It’ll feel the same way when I’m dead. Not even nothing. Why be scared of that?” Her indifference towards death makes her death meaningless and unsatisfying, especially when coupled with her gaining the success and riches she dreamed of. 

A potential fix to this ending would be Grayson getting caught and put in jail. This would still keep the poetic justice the director was going for, while the system Grayson created ultimately turning against her. Seeing all her wealth stripped away and being stuck in jail would be much more satisfying. 

Ultimately, I think this movie failed at the message it was trying to convey, when Grayson’s feminist qualities are completely undermined by her disturbing motives and actions. When combined with its terrible ending, it left me and many others feeling annoyed and without closure by the time the credits rolled.