In Reviews

January 23rd, 2015




We are supposed to feel emotions while watching Director Daniel Barnz’s film, Cake, but the only feeling that I got was that this entire film was desperate to prove to me that Jennifer Aniston can actually act. Yes, this is a turn of performance for the Friends star, but here is a film where Aniston does one thing different from all her other films: she’s plays someone who is not pleasant. I would describe Cake as a film in desperate need of more frosting.

Looking very unlike herself, Aniston (Horrible Bosses) is Claire Bennett, a victim of a terrible car accident, who now struggles with chronic pain. What has come along with her aching, is an addiction to pain pills, terrible scarring on her face and body, and an inability to find happiness. During a session at her pain and loss support group, she finds, a bit of joy talking about Nina (Anna Kendrick), a woman in the group who recently killed herself. While other members of the group mourn her loss, Claire takes an interest to Nina’s entire life. Including the relationship she starts with Nina’s husband Roy (Sam Worthington).

But let me slow down before I get ahead of the lack there of. Since she is always in chronic pain, Claire needs a housekeeper, Silvana (Adriana Barraza), to help get her out of bed, put her clothes on, and even drive her to Mexico when her doctors don’t give enough meds to keep her habit going. As the two travel for their own recreation of the Dallas Buyers Club, they begin to develop a friendly relationship that goes beyond just angry employer and quiet housekeeper. It is sweet when Claire brags for Silvana to a few friends who clearly look down on her type of work, but this is the only sweet moment.

I do not want to sound like I am entirely shitting on Aniston’s performance. There is some merit. I have enjoyed the actress for her roles in Office Space and She’s the One. The actress obviously made a conscious choice to give more effort here than she has in the past, but her Golden Globe and SAG nominations here, deserve more credit to her publicist than the proof on the screen. It was documented on movie websites about the lengths of her campaign went from Dr. Oz all the way to handing out individual cakes to voters.

And as for the movie, what truly irritates, is the plots continuous, “give them only a little detail” approach to all the parties involved. Claire’s obsession with Nina is never diagnosed, or the fact that she approaches her widower and he acts as if its not creepy. The one scene with Claire’s ex-husband (Chris Messina) is so brief I forgot he was in the movie, and later, there is the arrival of a man (William H. Macy) on Claire’s front doorstep which causes her to lash out at him. The film does reveal his purpose, but for all I know Macy just showed up to say hello and Claire really hates the Fargo actor.

Overall, Cake is lacking any of the flavor that would be needed to make this film taste sweet. It is promising to see Aniston give this kind of effort, but the weak screenplay only gives us a sliver of our characters. What we want is an entire piece.

2 Stars

Written By: Leo Brady

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