SPOILERS! If you don’t want the ending spoiled you should stop here.
The latest addition to the evil-b*tch-who-gets-punished club is Rosamund Pike in crime thriller I Care a Lot (2020), written and directed by J. Blakeson. Pike plays the lead female, an American legal guardian to the elderly, whom she robs blind after heartlessly depriving of their freedom. She is portrayed as such a selfish, self-serving and cruel person that viewers are led not to mind so much when a man spits in her face. After all, she is portrayed as a sort of monster, a threat to all, someone we would want to protect the elderly from—the type of person we want to protect ourselves from. Some viewers, while watching this, will likely be tempted to put legal mechanisms in place to ensure they retain control over their life. Pike’s character makes you want to take steps to avoid being vulnerable to her brand of predation. We are meant to dislike her immensely. Unfortunately, she is far from the first female character in a position of power/authority over other people to be portrayed as a horrible b*tch (e.g. Louise Fletcher in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 1975)—and likely far from the last—which is why it wasn’t rocket science to predict what would happen to Pike.
The treatment reserved for horrible/evil b*tches in Hollywood movies is predictable. I’ve seen it numerous times in the course of analysing 750 feature films. There is little deviation from this misogynist path: a woman is portrayed as evil/horrible and then she is humiliated, physically harmed and oftentimes murdered. The moment I saw the man spit in Pike’s face I thought her chances of making it out alive were slim. And because she was portrayed as such a horrible person (‘evil b*tch’) she would likely be harmed before being murdered. Indeed, she is drugged, stuffed in the trunk of a car (abduction), punched in the face by a man (assault), while she is bound to a chair, a man puts a plastic bag over her head and tries to choke her to death (attempted murder), she is drugged again… and ultimately, a man shoots her dead (murder—the VAW really adds up in this one). Moreover, to scare her a woman she knows is murdered in her workplace and men break into her home and punch her girlfriend before trying to kill the girlfriend.
As I watched this woman (Pike) be harmed repeatedly—not to mention the harm that comes to four other women (I haven’t even touched on the treatment reserved for Dianne Wiest)—I wondered what purpose this all served. As a woman I got very little enjoyment out of this movie. Male viewers, especially those who hate women, are much better served here.
The other remarkable thing about Pike’s character is her strength and ambition. She is much stronger and more ambitious than most female characters and women would do well to note how these traits are portrayed: negatively. They are not positive traits here; they appear unnatural and abhorrent. Yet another thing I have seen far too often in mainstream movies (i.e. women’s strength and ambition portrayed negatively).
When I add it all up I come to the conclusion that I Care a Lot does not care about female viewers. If you took a pass on this one you would probably be doing yourself a kindness.
Copyright © 2021 Alline Cormier