Written by Patrick Tobin
Directed by Daniel Barnz
Available to stream on Netflix
About the Movie: Cake is a drama about loss, grief and recovery written by Patrick Tobin, directed by Daniel Barnz, and starring Jennifer Aniston, Adrianna Barraza, Felicity Huffman, William H. Macy, Anna Kendrick and Sam Worthington. Claire (Jennifer Aniston) is a polarizing, acerbic, rather broken woman who has become very embittered with her life after surviving a car accident, which killed her child and left her in chronic physical pain, not to mention emotional pain/grief that she tries to chase away with a hefty pain killer addiction. Claire becomes fascinated with Nina, a woman from her chronic pain support group who recently committed suicide. Her fascination leads her to seek out, and visit, Nina’s home and strike up an unusual friendship with Nina’s widower, and young son.
Brief Synopsis: The movie begins with a support group that Claire is a part of discussing the recent suicide of Nina, a previous member of said group. It is obvious, right from the start, that Claire is masking her pain by striking out and being intentionally unlikable. We see Claire’s visible scars, and her pained movements, but are not told where any of this has come from until the story unfolds. Claire lives alone, though her caretaker/housekeeper, Silvana (Adrianna Barraza) is often there, and goes far and above any job description to care for her. Claire develops a strange fascination with Nina that manifests itself into an unlikely friendship with Nina’s widower, Ray (Sam Worthington), and his son, as well as some hallucinations (probably drug and grief induced) of Nina herself. Claire’s journey back to a place of wanting to live, and recover, is the basis of this very sad, yet somehow inspiring, story.
Why I chose it: I have wanted to see Cake since I first read about it, especially because I was interested in seeing Jennifer Aniston take on a role like Claire. I expected a lot from her performance, and am happy to report that I was not disappointed – she was incredible. The supporting cast, especially Adrianna Barraza and Sam Worthington were great, too, but this really is Jennifer’s film. I had no idea exactly what had gone wrong for Claire before seeing the film, and if I had I may have been more ready to how hard it would hit me (losing one of my children is unfathomable to me), but I have no regrets. I’m glad I watched it.
My thoughts in three sentences: Incredibly heartbreaking, and miserable at times, yet it had me hopeful somehow, perhaps because I wanted so badly for Claire to make it to the other side, to find some happiness, to find a will to want to be alive (and not drug-hazed alive). The second half of the film hit me harder than the first, especially in Claire’s dealing with her son’s death, and with her brief, yet very heavily emotionally charged, scene with the man who caused her accident. The fact that Jennifer Aniston was not Oscar nominated for this role is a travesty.
Best: Without a doubt, Jennifer Aniston. She was just so amazing. I also loved the use of Gary Lightbody’s cover of Beyonce’s Halo (see below).
Halo :: Gary Lightbody
Worst: I honestly cannot think of anything wrong, or “worst“, about this film. It was paced well, it was not heavy-handed, despite that dark and tragically sad subject matter, it was just perfectly done. I loved that the ending had room for more, that there was hope in the deep sorrow, that there were paths that I could imagine Claire taking, but that it wasn’t all neatly sewed up, or “happy ever after“-ed. The last shot, when she has a personal victory in the car, had me wanting to cheer out loud. So, yeah, long-winded way of me saying there was not a “worst“.
Rating (out of 5): 4.5
4 thoughts on “Cake (2014) :: Lunch and a Movie”
I loved this one too. I had no idea she lost her son either before seeing the movie. I knew she was suffering from chronic pain and kicked out of her support group–that was the extent of it. I found the movie quite moving, surprisingly funny at times and just really heartfelt and sad but watchable and something I didn’t want to turn away from. Somehow they made Jennifer’s character so…rough…well you know but not in a way that turned me off and I didn’t wonder what would happen to her. And by the time you get more information and see that portrait at the end and feel the full weight of her loss you’re just totally sucked in and crying. I really liked it. I can’t stand Anna Kendrick so that’d probably be my one thing I’d like to change and recast but she wasn’t in it that much.
I actually don’t mind Anna Kendrick normally, but I didn’t care much for her in this – but she was so inconsequential, even if she was the catalyst to so much of the story, that I didn’t think about listing her in the “worst”. I had no idea about her son either, and that scene with the portrait was heartbreaking and had me a mess of tears that I tried very hard to contain as I watch these movies, split between two days, in our company lunch room!
I felt it was so well done, the emotional heft of it all, and not overwrought or heavy handed. And yes, I laughed at times, too, surprisingly. It was so moving and Jennifer was so so so good in it.
It didn’t need a perfect ending either, it had enough hope in it to leave you not worrying about her, but enough questions to leave you knowing she had different paths she could go on in.
I’m glad you loved it, too.
most people love her. she does seem very bright, funny, nice…but it’s one of those things I can’t help. she just bugs me:/ i like quite a few movies she’s in anyway but not because she’s in them. maybe I’ll come around someday, sometimes that happens.
I remember this movie getting some critical praise and attention and even a little buzz of an Oscar nom for Jennifer and then it died down. I’d mostly heard it was good but not good enough but I bet to differ.
The ending felt right & real. How could things be too tidied up or set right or healed after what she went through? But we knew she was maybe not going to kill herself, taking a step forward, facing the loss of her son more headone than before. Like she was dealing with all this insane physical pain and was finally read to feel the emotional pain and start there. I hope her character is okay=)
I love your comment!!
Reblogged this on At the Library and commented:
I loved and was so moved by this movie. Laura’s review is wonderful & spot on.