“I Care a Lot’s” director J Blakeson and stars joined Variety’s Virtual TIFF Studio presented by Canada Goose to discuss the crime drama’s complex characters, story and message.

Blakeson said his “deliciously Machiavellian” characters were inspired by real news stories about predatory guardians taking advantage of the elderly and other vulnerable populations. He added that he focused on writing complex characters like Marla, who is ruthlessly ambitious and fearless in a charming way.

Rosamund Pike, who portrays Marla, said the moral ambiguity of the story makes the pic far more compelling. Even though Marla slowly takes over her client’s finances, the criminals in the film are never “breaking” the law, but “bending” it, she added.

Eiza González said Marla and her character Fran’s unbreakable love was portrayed in a subtle yet meaningful way. While “I Care a Lot” isn’t an intentionally feminist film, the actor believes there should be more stories like it that empower women. “It addresses gay relationships without being in your face,” she said. “It doesn’t feel like we need to talk about it because — it’s just a matter of fact. It’s so normalized how it should be.”

González said the film’s complex message has a lot to offer audiences: “This movie can be a little bit dark, but I think this movie really creates a conversation of a greater good of not just the elderly care, but many subjects that get addressed in this movie and a lot of undertones that I think is necessary.”