FilmReview

Review: ‘Cake’ Is Layered, Beautiful And Bittersweet

Madison Gallup ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Jennifer Aniston in Cake. Photo Credit: Tony Rivetti Jr./Cinelou Releasing.
Jennifer Aniston in Cake. Photo Credit: Tony Rivetti Jr./Cinelou Releasing.

Cake is a film that is likely going to be dismissed by the viewing public. Between Jennifer Aniston’s lack of an Oscar nomination for her performance, the number of mediocre to bad reviews that have been released on it so far, and the difficult subject matter that the film is encased in, many people might opt to give another movie their money instead. This is unfortunate, because Cake is a film that deserves to be seen.

Cake, directed by Daniel Barnz, centers around Claire Bennett (Aniston) as she deals with the suicide of Nina Collins (Anna Kendrick), a young woman from her chronic pain support group who left behind her husband and son. Claire has a difficult time coping with this on top of the trauma and pain she has faced before the film begins.

In a year of- let’s face it- many intense and downer movies, Cake is one that handles the dark subject of suicide and depression with a good dose of humor and a captivating pacing. There are certainly parts of the film that can be difficult to sit through, but overall Cake is extremely watchable.

Anna Kendrick and Jennifer Aniston in Cake. Photo Credit: Tony Rivetti Jr./Cinelou Releasing.
Anna Kendrick and Jennifer Aniston in Cake. Photo Credit: Tony Rivetti Jr./Cinelou Releasing.

The film could have easily veered into a soap opera zone, but the performances ground many of the cliches into more subtle and meaningful places. While Jennifer Aniston is widely considered the reason to see Cake – and rightfully so, she brings nuance to a role that could be dismissed as whiny and inconsiderate- every actor adds authenticity to the film in the way they approach their character. Chris Messina shines in his brief appearance on screen as Jason Bennett, the ex-husband of Claire. Anna Kendrick delves into an entirely new side of her acting capabilities while portraying Nina Collins, a member of Claire’s chronic pain support group who commits suicide before the film begins, adding in a hauntingly creepy factor to the movie every time she appears on screen.

Aesthetically, this film is fluid and vibrant. It is consistently impressive from a cinematography stand point without ever seeming as though it was trying too hard to achieve a particularly artsy and new feel. Even when some of the symbols in the film felt a bit heavy handed (like the recurring image of a pool), they looked so beautiful that it did not seem to matter as much. It should also be noted that Aniston was transformed pretty drastically in a way that felt realistic, so props to the makeup department working on Cake as well.

Jennifer Aniston and Chris Messina in Cake. Photo Credit: Tony Rivetti Jr./Cinelou Releasing.
Jennifer Aniston and Chris Messina in Cake. Photo Credit: Tony Rivetti Jr./Cinelou Releasing.

There have been many movies in 2014 based on books or historical events, so Patrick Tobin’s original script is a nice change of pace. While the story is not without flaws, it is intriguing and complex throughout. Adriana Barraza’s character Silvana (the woman who looks after Claire) could have fallen into a stereotypical mold, but was instead given time to develop and grow into a person audiences could really feel for. Tobin’s script is to thank for providing many of the characters with depth and complexity even though his story is centered around Claire.

Cake is not a film without flaws, but it deserves recognition and an audience. Jennifer Aniston truly is a force to be reckoned with, the script and supporting performances are nuanced, the cinematography is lovely, and the pacing of the film makes it easy to watch even when the subject matter is difficult.

Overall Grade: B+

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