Directed by Daniel Barnz
After having visions of a member of her support group who killed herself, a woman who also suffers with chronic pain seeks out the widower of the suicide.
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★★★½ review by Ruslan Mavrodinov on Letterboxd
With Aniston’s powerful, career-high performance at its core, the appropriately quiet, reflective, downbeat and often quirky Cake delicately captures the agonizing effects of pain, grief and depression despite the shortcomings of its meandering script.
★★★★ review by Travis Lytle on Letterboxd
A film about the slow road to recovery, Daniel Barnz's "Cake" is a cutting drama featuring a dour but remarkable performance from Jennifer Aniston. Taking time to tell its story and reveal its pain, the film is a small-scale and compelling portrait of the places grief leads.
Introducing its cantankerous protagonist during an ineffective support group session, "Cake" follows a character in obvious physical and emotional pain. The narrative allows the sources of her pain to be revealed patiently, and it tracks her as she moves toward an existence where that pain is pushed aside but never completely forgotten.
Barnz presents Aniston in scarred, unglamorous glory and allows her performance to drive the film. Moving from anger to despondency to put-upon pith, Aniston's character is at once off-putting and empathetic. She floats through Barnz's sun-dappled and semi-surreal production, communicating moments of searing emotion and dark humor.
"Cake" is a measured and mannered drama whose strong lead performance and touches of cinematic zest make it stand out. It is a human, impactful, and strong piece of work that will create a recognizable experience for anyone who has tread the difficult path to healing of any kind.
★★★★½ review by Lucy on Letterboxd
i loved this
★★★½ review by Taz on Letterboxd
no one told her life was gonna be this way
★★★½ review by Captain Kirk on Letterboxd
Film #4 of "Scavenger Hunt #4" Challenge!
Task #14: A film featuring a suicidal person!
"Do you want to get well?"
That is the best moment in this film. It is clear that Jennifer Aniston's Claire is suffering greatly through physical pain in this film and we can see the scars like confetti spread all over her body conveying a mystery of something tragic that has happened, but is there something deeper that is the real source of her pain? Aniston plays an absolutely miserable person who manipulates others to get her way and treat everyone around her like dogshit. She seems to believe that what has happened to her gives her an excuse to act the way that she does. Much like the pain pills that she takes for physical relief, her attitude towards others is the salve that keeps her from having to face the tragedy that has left her badly scarred on the inside. We all have to medicate somehow right? The problem is that medicating pain does not cure pain.
Throughout the film, people quit on Claire; usually the result of her pushing a button one too many times. Everyone else is dealing with their own baggage as well, which is why you can tell how badly Claire's must be, she is fairly oblivious to the suffering of others around her because she is too wrapped up in the weight of her own baggage. While it is never said in the film, you can tell that is has almost become a badge of honor: a suffering that is superior to that of others' suffering. Eventually, your whole identity becomes about what you have suffered and the leverage you feel it brings to relationships. So when Claire's physical therapist tells her she has made no progress in over 6 months and perhaps it's all just been time wasted, she asks her the question, "Do you want to get well?" This really is the crux of the film and the journey that Claire is on. If you missed this, you probably missed out on the point of this movie and didn't like it. If you picked up on it, you may have enjoyed it more.
Cake has a profound message, but delivers it in a muddy fashion. It is subtle and perhaps that is why it didn't receive more acclaim. I'll admit that even though I liked it a good deal, it could have been better. While the supporting performances in the movie all get the job done, none of them really stood out except for Aniston who probably should have been nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for this but was denied. She plays Claire with restraint even though it was a part that could have easily been overacted to extremes. Kudos to the casting director who gave her a chance to show her chops. She is officially the most successful cast member of Friends since it went off the air.
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