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Cake (R)
Film Reviews by Amy Diaz

01/29/15
By Amy Diaz adiaz@hippopress.com



Cake (R)

Jennifer Aniston plays a woman dealing with pain — physical, emotional and otherwise — in Cake, a solid little movie that is a total downer.
Claire Bennett (Aniston) is, as we eventually find out, suffering from enormous amounts of physical pain from a car accident that also left her badly scarred. This physical injury is also a symbol of the far greater emotional suffering she’s in. Constant pain has left her bitter and snappish — only her housekeeper Silvana (Adriana Barraza) can stand to be around her. Her husband Jason (Chris Messina) has left and even her chronic pain support group leader (Felicity Huffman) and physical therapist (Mamie Gummer) suggest she find new people to work with. The only time we see Claire turn on the charm is when she visits a doctor seeking what we suspect are pain-killers she’s not supposed to have. If the pills hidden behind a picture frame don’t give it away, a trip to Tijuana to buy drugs without a prescription makes it clear that Claire is an addict. 
What does a woman like this have to live for? It’s a question Claire asks herself after Nina (Anna Kendrick), a member of her (former) support group, kills herself. Claire becomes fascinated with Nina, having conversations with her in dreams, having hallucinations of her and even going so far as to visit the home where Nina’s husband, Roy (Sam Worthington), and young son live. Roy and Claire become friendly, in their odd raw way, with each other. Both are in deep suffering and neither has to pretend to be normal with each other. But, as Roy tells Claire, he can’t save her; he’s barely able to save himself and his son.
For all that she’s known for Friends and comedy, Aniston is actually great at this kind of a role, versions of which she’s played before in The Good Girl and Friends With Money. She’s great playing the lost woman who has a sharp, bitter view of the world and who isn’t careful of others’ feelings. Here, she gives a performance that is, in ways, big (there is nothing subtle about the way Claire handles grief) but it’s also solid, nuanced and captivating. Her relationships with Silvana and Roy, the only honest relationships she has, are nicely drawn and give us enough glimpse at their lives to make them well-rounded people.
I “liked” this movie, this movie that is searing and kind of horrible to sit through at parts and will make even the toughest cynic tear up. So do I recommend it? It’s hard to say “check this out and have a terrible time!” but Cake makes the deep sadness of its story and the rawness of its emotions mostly worth it. B+
Rated R for language, substance abuse and brief sexuality. Directed by Daniel Barnz with a screenplay by Patrick Tobin, Cake is an hour and 42 minutes long and is distributed by Freestyle Releasing.





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