Director: Daniel Barnz
Writer: Patrick Tobin
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Adriana Barraza, Anna Kendrick, Sam Worthington, Mamie Gummer, Felicity Huffman, William H. Macy, Chris Messina, Lucy Punch, Britt Robertson
Seen on: 15.04.2015
After an accident Claire (Jennifer Aniston) is in chronic pain, bitter and lonely. Her only points of social contact are her housekeeper Silvana (Adriana Barraza) and her chronic pain self-help group. But after one of its members, Nina (Anna Kendrick), committed suicide and Claire had a bit of a meltdown, the group has asked her to leave. Instead Claire pays a visit to Nina’s widower Roy (Sam Worthington). They both start leaning on each other for their recovery, even if that’s a very slow-going process.
Cake was an excellent film. Great performances, smart script, interesting topic handled seriously but also with a sense of humor, all tied together in a neat little package.
Chronic pain is not a subject that is oftened featured in films (in fact, I can’t think of a single movie where that’s the case, apart from this one) and that alone makes the film noteworthy. But there’s a lot more to this story of recovery than a new thing to recover from. In fact, Tobin’s script neatly sidesteps most tropes you’d expect from this kind of story.
Claire and Roy do not heal each other through their romantic love. There is generally no magical healing, just a willingness to commit to the process of getting better and of trying to start as fresh as possible. Claire’s (ex)husband (Chris Messina) is not some kind of unfeeling monster. Claire is not a suffering saint. Etc, etc. Even the relationship Claire has with Silvana is something special: it is made clear (in a wonderful scene where Silvana’s daughter calls Claire and Silvana’s devotion to her out with everything she has) that Silvana is in no way obliged to help Claire, that it is not only some selfless sacrifice on her part, but that it’s also her own grief that Silvana is working on. [It wasn’t quite enough to not leave a rest of uncomfortableness with the power imbalance in their relationship, but it was something.]
Through it all you have Jennifer Aniston who obviously relishes the chance to play something that isn’t up her usual alley. She is fantastic in the role, from Claire’s bitterness to her stiff movements, from her sense of humor to the immense hurt just beneath her surface that has nothing to do with her mangled body. It really is the role of her life so far and she plays it to perfection. Adriana Barraza is great too, and both sold me emotionally on their friendship (despite my rational objections).
For such a serious topic, the movie has an extremely nice sense of humor that at once manages to make light of the drama (in a very black humor sort of way) without ridiculing the condition or the very tragic circumstances. I expected the movie to be very sad and hard to handle, but it was actually rather hopeful and sweet, in spite of the sadness and the pain that was also there. I liked it better that way.