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The Ending Of I Care A Lot Explained

Netflix's newest dark comedy, which features an outstanding cast, expertly builds to an explosive ending that will leave you shocked. Spoilers for I Care a Lot ahead!

I Care a Lot, which comes from writer-director J Blakeson, tells the twisted story of Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike), a cunning con woman who has quietly made a fortune by taking advantage of elderly people by declaring them mentally unfit and getting a sympathetic judge to grant her legal guardianship. In doing so, Marla is able to take complete control of any given elder's finances, and shuts out their own children in the process by claiming that, due to the fact that she has no emotional attachment to those she governs, she can make helpful and impartial decisions.

Despite constant lawsuits from the children of the people she targets, Marla makes out like a bandit with each case, aided by her cohort and lover Fran (Eiza González). However, when she pulls her usual stunt with Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest), who lives alone in a large, luxurious house and has a healthy fortune to her name, she runs into a huge unexpected problem: Jennifer's name isn't Jennifer at all, and her son, Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage), is a powerful mob boss.

As Roman tries to find his mother, he discovers that she's under Marla's care, setting off a dangerous game of cat and mouse. Ultimately, when the two cross paths, thing turn deadly, setting off a devastating chain of events that affects Marla, Roman, and Fran in equal measure. Here's the ending of I Care a Lot explained, and what star Rosamund Pike had to say about her latest role.

Roman and Marla's battle takes some seriously dark turns

After Roman and his loyal lawyer, Dean Ericson (Chris Messina), realize that Jennifer's life and estate are controlled by Marla, they officially wage war when she refuses to relinquish the guardianship... and Roman is definitely a formidable foe. After she ignores Fran's pleas to run and has Jennifer locked in a psychiatric institution, Roman has Marla drugged and kidnapped and tries to kill her by locking her in a car, which his henchmen then drive into a lake. Marla manages to escape with her life and retaliates by kidnapping and drugging Roman in return... and after she and Fran drop him, naked, on the side of the road, she manages to gain guardianship of him as well.

All of this culminates not in a continued battle, but, strangely, a new alliance. By this point, Roman is forced to admit that Marla is a pretty talented opponent, and even offers her the CEO position of a new global company where they can assume guardianship of elders together.

Ultimately, Marla doesn't just get away with her crimes at first — she actually gets rewarded, justifying her belief in herself and seemingly validating everything that she's done up until this point. Throughout the film, Marla treats both the elders she "cares" for and their angry families as completely disposable faceless entities, posting their photos on an enormous whiteboard while ignoring that these are very real people she's exploiting — and, to make it even worse, sick and confused people. When Roman literally rewards her for her crimes, Marla ascends to national fame and acclaim as a sort of "girl boss," giving her an enormous sense of hubris... but her downfall is still yet to come.

Marla's fate brings her story full circle

In the end, Marla's fame and success directly contributes to her downfall. After a huge television interview celebrating her position and CEO, Marla is shot to death outside of the studio, ultimately dying in Fran's arms.

So who exactly shoots Marla? Clearly, there are plenty of people with the motive to do so, but the character who ends Marla's life is introduced right at the beginning of the film. When we first meet Marla, she's in court arguing to maintain guardianship of an old woman named Feldstrom, whose son is suing her for the right to see and care for his mother. Marla eventually wins the case, and Mr. Feldstrom (Macon Blair) verbally attacks her outside of the courthouse, even spitting in her face. In the end, it's Mr. Feldstrom who finally gets his revenge against Marla; as we learn, his mother died while under Marla's guardianship, and Mr. Feldstrom wasn't able to see her before her death.

By the time the film ends, Marla seems utterly untouchable, so bringing Mr. Feldstrom back to kill her is a pretty perfect instance of poetic justice. Marla truly never seems to consider that any of the people she's hurt or manipulated would ever seek retribution, because again, she doesn't even really see them as people, so Mr. Felstrom's final blow just shows how dangerous and harmful Marla was throughout her life.

Rosamund Pike thinks that the ending of I Care a Lot is perfect

In an interview with USA Today, Pike, who brings Marla to life, tells the outlet that she thinks the film's ending is perfectly just; as she put it, "I love the ending of this film because it gives you everything."

"You sort of want to see Marla win," Pike continued. "You want to see the giddy heights of success: the wall of wards and then Grayson Guardianship tower blocks going up, and the idea of care homes all over the country with her name on them. In like a couple of years, this whole shady business is going to be washed clean and she's going to be a pillar of industry making hefty bequests to charitable organizations. She's going to be Saint Marla. People like that get away with it all the time. That is how it goes. And then of course [the movie] doesn't let her get away with it."

Pike also says that as she played Marla, she had to keep one thing in mind right up until the end. "In my head, Marla never believed she was going to die," Pike revealed. "I mean, right until the point that she breathes her last, I think she still thinks she's going to win and she's going to get out of it. I really do."

Writer-director Blakeson agreed with Pike, saying, "people find the ending satisfying, but it leaves a bittersweet taste in their mouth because we end with the most likable character in the movie screaming in despair." However, as he points out, Fran and Roman will continue Marla's tradition of taking advantage of the elderly: "You can chop the head off the hydra, but there's another one that will keep living."

There's some serious similarities between Marla Grayson and another Rosamund Pike character

If Pike's performance as the conniving, cunning Marla Grayson feels familiar, it's probably because it bears a ton of similarities to Amy Elliott Dunne, the twisted anti-heroine Pike portrayed in the acclaimed 2014 film Gone Girl. As a scorned wife seeking retribution, Pike made Amy one of the most iconic characters in recent memory, and earned an Academy Award nod for Best Leading Actress for the role.

As Pike recently told Entertainment Weekly, Amy and Marla do share some characteristics, but they're still different... and probably wouldn't get along. "I certainly enjoyed returning to the stage where I can enjoy darkly and sort of satirically shocking people, I suppose," Pike said. "I do think they would be two interesting women to get in a room together. I don't think they would like each other very much at all."

However, Pike certainly understands the comparisons: "I think intelligence is very sexy and seductive, even if it's intelligence used to a bad end, as we discovered with Amy Dunne too," the actress said. However, where they differ is how they pull off their scheme. "Amy is very strategic and has everything worked out months in advance, with every 't' crossed and every 'i' dotted, and Marla is more of a hustler," Pike reasoned. "She flies by the seat of her pants a bit more, and she kind of is a grittier creature, really. She can get caught between a rock and a hard place and somehow find the opening and get out. Amy is a different type of person, but they are both very intelligent and good at duping innocent people."

I Care a Lot is streaming on Netflix now.