|Worth seeing:||if you want to see how Jennifer Aniston injects a dark sense of humour into a drama about a cantankerous and depressive addict|
|Featuring:||Jennifer Aniston, Sam Worthington, Adriana Barraza, Anna Kendrick, Chris Messina, Felicity Huffman, Mamie Gummer, William H Macy|
|Released:||20th February 2015|
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Addicted to pain medication, Claire (Jennifer Aniston) has been in group therapy since a car accident that left her scarred – and her marriage damaged beyond repair.
When one of her fellow group members, Nina (Anna Kendrick), kills herself, everyone else struggles to come to terms with the loss, but a disdainful Claire mocks the way that she couldn’t even kill herself efficiently.
Cantankerous to the end, Claire pushes her maid Silvana (Adriana Barraza) almost to the limit, but loyalty to her boss signals a triumph of hope over experience, as Silvana continues to support her – from cooking and cleaning to chauffeuring her around – even as far as a pharmacy in Mexico.
But Claire finally starts to come out of her shell when curiosity over why Nina decided to end it all pushes her to track down her widower Roy (Sam Worthington), whose own difficulty coming to terms with his bereavement leave him open to welcoming another lost soul into his life.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Cake was meant to be Jennifer Aniston’s big push for a slice of Oscar action, taking on a dramatic role about as far from rom-coms she’s best known for as she could get.
She secured nominations at the Screen Actors Guild and the Golden Globes – where the drama/comedy split doubles an actor’s chances – but failed to win herself a place on the most coveted red carpet of them all. That’s not through lack of trying – she shows herself to be a perfectly competent dramatic performer and even manages to squeeze out a handful of admittedly dark laughs in so doing. But while competent, this turn isn’t outstanding.
That’s partly because the film itself doesn’t really dig deeply enough into the human psyche to reveal enough about her character. And this is partly because it waits a while before disclosing the full cause of her depression; while this presents audiences with an interesting enough gear-change, it means Aniston is necessarily blank for the first half of the film and has only the second half to show her full emotional range.
There are rather too many stereotypical supporting characters while certain narrative elements feel somewhat clunky but Aniston’s two main relationships – with her maid and her newfound friend are surprisingly – if not always convincingly – warm.