Cake – Review

After Matthew McConaughey transitioned from romcom heartthrob to Oscar winning dramatic actor, giving way to what many know as the McConaissance, it looks like it is Jennifer Aniston’s turn. Primarily known for her comedic roles, Aniston gives a tremendous performance in ‘Cake’.

The difference between Aniston’s film and McConaughey’s ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ is that his actually had a point whereas ‘Cake’ just feels like an endless stream of outbursts, crying and pills. Besides her performance, the film isn’t remarkable nor memorable. I wanted to see this movie because of all the talk about Jennifer Aniston being snubbed at the Oscars and I can now confirm that she was.

Go see this movie to see Jennifer Aniston like you’ve never seen her before, but don’t expect to be entertained.

In ‘Cake’, Jennifer Aniston plays a troubled woman, plagued by chronic pain, addiction, anger and the ghost of a suicide victim. Her character, Claire Bennett, is a very unlikable woman who mistreats the people around her, pops pills, and is an all around angry human being. As the film progresses, she reveals a kinder, gentler side as her story comes out. We come to find out that her chronic back pain is the result of a car accident that claimed the life of her young son. Along with the overwhelming grief caused by her son’s death, she becomes closed off and pushes away her husband to the point of separation.

The film begins with Claire at a support group for people suffering with chronic pain. Recently one of the members, Nina Collins (Anna Kendrick), committed suicide by jumping off an overpass. This particular meeting finds Annette (Felicity Huffman), the support group leader, pretending to be Nina so that the other members can vent their feeling to her. At this point Claire describes how Nina died and to the horror of the rest of the member, commends her for actually having the guts to kill herself. Naturally this leads to her being kicked out of the group.

Nina’s suicide causes Claire to become obsessed with suicide and she is often visited by her ghost, egging her on to kill herself. Jennifer Aniston’s character goes on a series of hunt to find out more about Nina. She visits the overpass, and meets her family, striking up a friendship with her husband Roy (Sam Worthington). The scenes where Claire is visited by Nina’s ghost are some of the best in the movie because Anna Kendrick is totally in her element as the sarcastic and vulgar young woman. One scene that stood out is when her ghost visits Claire in the hospital after overdosing on pills. Nina walks into the room carrying a cake and tells Claire that the only thing she wish she could have done was to make a cake from scratch for her son. Then she jumps out of the hospital window, waking the disoriented Claire and proceeds to rip out her IV.

I was really disappointed that there wasn’t more of Anna Kendrick because she is one of my favorite actresses and her time on screen was gold! Jennifer Aniston’s performance is also pretty stellar but the character is also fairly generic. I feel like the formula for an actress to receive award buzz is for them to portray someone who has lost something, wears no makeup and is just a miserable person. Granted, she portrays this character very well but I wish that roles for women would branch out and that more original roles are created for them. Real women are much more than mothers, sadness, and addiction, and I wish that this was portrayed more on screen.

With that out of the way, her performance was very raw and real and I think that she was very much snubbed by the Academy. For an actress who is so used to playing comedic roles, her portrayal of this character shows tremendous range. She goes from having a very dark sense of humor to happy to full of rage so beautifully and it was really amazing to see an actress that I’ve liked for so long, pull off such an amazing performance.

As for the technical side of the movie, it was pretty standard. There isn’t any fancy camera work, sound or sets and is just rather unextraordinary in that sense. So besides the acting, not much going on for this movie with a plot that seems to go no where and disappointing visually.

3 Rating

‘Cake’ was released on January 23, 2015 and stars Jennifer Aniston, Anna Kendrick, Sam Worthington, Felicity Huffman, Adrianna Barraza, and William H. Macy. The film is directed by Daniel Barnz.

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