Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Adriana Barraza, Anna Kendrick, Sam Worthington, Felicity Huffman
Directed By: Daniel Barnz
Written By: Patrick Tobin
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 1 hr 42 min
I like being proven right! And to all those people who have long since pigeonholed Jennifer Aniston as a ‘rom-com’ only actress, I say ‘told you so!’ This performance from Aniston has been a long time coming, but one I was certain would arrive at some point in her career. A career that unfortunately has had to endure the double-edged sword of success of the mega-international-hit TV show, Friends, and a slew of arguably less than effective romantic comedies.
Why is Hollywood so afraid to let clearly talented actors break away from their ‘established’ roles, and try something new? Then again, why are audiences seemingly unwilling to see comedic actors take on more dramatic roles? It can’t all be showy Hollywood glitz, glamour and mega-budget spectacle after all. Shouldn’t our multiplexes make more room for smaller independent films? You know, the ones that take risks and challenge the audience.
Cake opens with Claire Bennett (Jennifer Aniston) as she attends a support group for people suffering chronic pain, after a fellow member, Nina (Anna Kendrick) has committed suicide. What follows is a slow, but mostly moving portrayal of a person enduring horrific emotional and physical pain. I say mostly, because while Jennifer Aniston’s performance (and single best reason to see this film) is career redefining. I found Patrick Tobin’s script unable to reconcile Claire’s journey through a painful recovery, with the film’s more fanciful subplot involving the ghostly appearances of Nina, and Claire’s subsequent curiosity about Nina’s suicide.
This film also doesn’t fully exploit the friendship Claire shares with her maid, Silvana (Adriana Barraza in a great supporting performance), and instead wastes precious time toying with a love connection with Nina’s husband, Roy (Sam Worthington). Despite its flaws however, Cake explores Claire’s story arc reasonably well, and Jennifer Aniston’s performance is so good, the less than effective elements in this film don’t become too distracting.
Expect a slow-moving, somewhat uneven movie, that doesn’t lazily wrap up all the film’s elements in a nice pretty ‘feel good’ bow. This movie is rated R for language, substance abuse and brief sexuality.
While there are some nicely shot scenes in Cake, this film doesn’t need a movie sized screen to enjoy it. A HD showing of the rental will service this film well enough.
Best Moment: << Spoiler! >>
There’s a scene near the end of Cake, where elements that were only hinted at during the film in regards to Claire’s personal tragedy, really hit home when a painting is returned to her. It’s a very touching moment, and I’ll admit to getting a little choked up.