Cake (2014)

cake_2014_poster
Cake (2014)
  • Time: 92 min
  • Genre: Drama
  • Director: Daniel Barnz
  • Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Anna Kendrick, William H. Macy, Britt Robertson, Adriana Barraza

Storyline:

The acerbic, hilarious Claire Simmons becomes fascinated by the suicide of a woman in her chronic pain support group. As she uncovers the details of Nina’s suicide and develops a poignant relationship with Nina’s husband, she also grapples with her own, very raw personal tragedy.

4 reviews

  • Cake features Jennifer Aniston in all her unvarnished glory as the emotionally and physically pained Claire Simmons. Her committed performance is the only reason to watch this movie, which barely reaches the lowest level of mediocrity.

    Claire is a flinty character intent on keeping those around her at arm’s length so she can freely wallow in her self-pity. It’s clear death has taken her child and that her husband (Chris Messina), despite his obvious love for her, has been driven from their home. Her housekeeper Silvana (Adriana Barraza), however, stays put, withstanding Claire’s often blunt jibes to act as her mother, friend, and protector.

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  • Claire, played by Jennifer Aniston (Horrible Bosses 2) becomes infatuated with the family of a woman who committed suicide from her chronic pain support group, while grappling with her own person tragedy. While Cake itself didn’t receive any nominations, Aniston was nominated for Best Actress in several award ceremonies and it’s very clear why.

    First off, if you’ve seen films like Rabbit Hole and Beautiful Boy, you can get a picture of what Cake is going to be like, it’s nothing you have ever seen Aniston in before and that’s not exactly a bad thing. While it has its humour, which trust me it needs, it’s a very dark, hard-hitting story. Cake does however, suffer from the very slow pace, while there is a fascinating story, it’s severely hindered by countless shots that are trying to highlight Claire’s chronic pain and I understand why it’s done, it’s just too much. If there is anything to take away from Cake, it’s that no matter how hard life is, giving up should never be the answer and in the end, the film is quite inspiring.

    Then there’s the miss leading synopsis and trailer, I expected so much more from Anna Kendrick (Life After Beth), as the woman who committed suicide, but her role was so minimal, that her role was pretty pointless. In the end she adds…
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  • “Thank you for ruining my life.
    Thank you for ruining Casey’s life.
    Thank you for leaving me in this fucking mess.
    I hate you so much I can barely breath.”

    “Way to go Jennifer”. For me she’s the first one who succeeds in removing the yoke of the sitcom “Friends” and play a character that doesn’t remind you of that caricature appearance she played in it. Look at David Schwimmer in “The Iceman” and you see Ross with a totally wrong,fake mustache. Even Matthew Perry’s can’t hide the characteristics of Chandler in “Numb”. Lisa Kudrow tries in “Scandal” to resemble an extremely cool and tough presidential candidate, and yet you expect a crazy remark followed by that wonderful bizarre giggle. And Jennifer Aniston couldn’t put the Rachel-type aside in “The Break-Up” and “We’re the Millers”. But in “Cake” she succeeded in that above all expectations. She delivers a sublime and admirable performance here as Claire Bennett. A scarred woman, physical and psychological. You can see the pain in that tired look and those languid eyes. Even the sneering and cynical humor that she uses, can’t cover up the agonies she’s suffering from.

    After a fatal accident Claire stays behind all alone, with visible and invisible scars. A mangled body patched up afterwards. But she can no longer enjoy life to its full extent. And then there’s also the unbearable pain caused by the loss of her son. The result is a bitter, suffering and obnoxious woman abandoned by everyone. The support group prefers her to seek a different kind of help because of her anger issues. The physiotherapist is giving up on her because she has the impression that Claire makes no attempt to rehabilitate. Her husband left her for an unknown reason. Is it because of her moods and harsh remarks? Is there some reproach? Has Claire thrown him out because she doesn’t tolerate pity? We can only guess. Similarly, the conditions or cause of the accident are unknown. The only one who sticks to Claire, is her faithful housekeeper, the likable Mexican Silvana.

    It’s a magnificent portrait of the life course of a presumably wealthy lawyer who slowly but surely sees everything collapsing around her due to the traumatic event. Both her marriage and professional career falters while she’s losing herself because of the amount of painkillers and sleeping pills she’s taking. What’s left is a human wreck without any zest for life. There’s only one critical element missing : the courage to finally put it to an end. A backbreaking attitude to life with pent-up grief and eternally recurrent pain as a central issue. You can truly feel the pain. And this all is perfectly played by Jennifer Aniston, who isn’t worrying about a perfect makeup and a flashy hairstyle which would be massively hyped afterwards. Her appearance always looks as if she just crawled out of bed after a sleepless night. A face battered by scars, unkempt messed up hair and shabby clothes. A depressed and weary bitchy woman. But one who occasionally brings up funny and sarcastic remarks.

    Gradually Claire expresses interest in a participant from her support group who committed suicide and it seems to be her ultimate salvation. Is it the drugs that causes Claire to start hallucinating about Nina (Anna Kendrick) ? Or is her subconscious the reason ? Whether appropriate or not Nina appears and tries to convince her to take that final step. “You don’t believe in God…heaven or hell. You don’t believe in anything. What about now. Just do it. Don’t be such a coward.” Claire is intrigued by the character Nina and starts digging in her life. Finally she meets Roy (Sam Worthington), which is the start of a slow recovery. Maybe it’s all a bit too much peppered with poignant clichés that’ll ensure some sad moments filled with tears, but overall it was a bold and moving portrait of someone torn apart by grief and pain.

    Perhaps an Oscar nomination was worthwhile. At least Jennifer Aniston got nominated for a Golden Globe. And by the way well deserved. This “Friends” star delivered a terrific performance as the distraught,addicted-to-pills woman. And speaking of the symbolic meaning of the movie title, this is subtly revealed at the end. Splendid movie. And also because of leaving out sensational footage of the accident. An admirable choice that only strengthens the whole!

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  • I was completely engrossed by Jennifer Aniston’s performance. Like many I am a huge fan of friends and Aniston is barely recognisable in comparison.

    The story is gritty and compelling. In spite of Claire’s character not being very nice you can’t help but like her, even before you find out about the tragedy she has suffered.

    The only complaint I would have is I felt the connection between Claire and Nina wasn’t explained very well, due to this I was unable to empathise with Nina’s suicide or feel any kind of emotion at all to that aspect of the film.

    Overall a truly captivating film that makes your heart ache a little down to Aniston’s terrific performance of a heartbroken mother.

    Films like this make me realise how irrelevant the Oscar’s can be. Oscar or no Oscar there is no denying Aniston’s talent.

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