Rosamund Pike’s role within J Blakeson’s new mega-hit film I Care A Lot is aided by one more unusual prop — a vape pen. Throughout the film, Pike’s charavter Marla Gray is constantly sucking on the pen, which only adds to Marla’s perception as a contrived and comfortable criminal.
The premise of I Care A Lot sees Marla as the archetypal maternal figure, seemingly giving up hefty portions of her own life in the name of caring for the helpless and the needy. The truth is far worse. Marla instead uses the system to continuously feather her own nest, targeting elderly people, making them go into a care home and seizing their assets as sole guardian. It’s a powerful performance and certainly one of Pike’s best. But could she have done it without her vape?
The prop plays a significant role in the film. As Pike herself told Collider, not only does it provide Marla with a “dragon quality”, but it also shows Marla’s character development before we reach her, providing a detailed backstory with just one prop.
“The backstory of Marla is that she had a vape business until she was Walmart-ed out of business by a great big discount vape store opening across the street,” Pike told the publication, “which she was furious about. I think that was her shot at the American dream played fair. She had a small-time business; she was a small-time business owner, she got screwed and then she thought, ‘Right. Chips are down. I’m going all out. I’m gonna play the system like everybody else.’ And I think every time she inhales, it’s bringing that attitude to it. It’s the attitude of having been screwed and now you’re out to screw everybody.”
It’s the kind of trick that has been used in cinema from time to time, using the inhalation and exhalation of smoke to signify a character in command of their life and those around them.
Pike also notes that though Marla’s story may be a usual one in capitalist America, her reaction isn’t: “Not everyone would react like Marla does. I think she’s got that sort of self-centred pride that means that she doesn’t believe she should be screwed over. She deserves better. She won’t be. Like she says, ‘I won’t lose. I don’t lose.’”
If you’ve not seen Rosamund Pike in I Care A Lot yet, then now is the time to press play.