Cake written by Patrick Tobin and directed by Daniel Barnz (Cinelou Films, Echo Films, We’re Not Brothers Productions, R, 102 min)
Starring Jennifer Aniston, Adriana Barraza, Anna Kendrick, Sam Worthington.
How do you act when you aren’t conscious of your actions? I tend to rub my fingernails. It’s a habit I believe I’ve passed down to my son as he tends to want to rub my fingernails when he’s trying to calm down.
The innate habits we possess to get us through life can vary greatly but we engage in them to cope with the minute to the drastic.
With Cake, we see a mother coping with physical and emotional pain. Claire (Jennifer Aniston) attends a chronic pain class as she recovers from a devastating accident. She becomes fixated on the suicide of a fellow member of the class, Nina (Anna Kendrick).
She stalks Nina’s husband, Roy (Sam Worthington), trying to understand the inner workings of someone else’s life.
Claire is a miserable human being and the only person who cares for her these days seems to be her housekeeper, Silvana (Adriana Barraza).
There are so many layers to Cake you could create three or four movies about the different aspects of the plot, and this complexity does the film no favors.
Claire struggles with physical and psychological pain, but she’s also inquisitive about the lives of random strangers. Her relationship with her housekeeper is odd and her addiction to pain killers could be a separate movie.
Throughout it all, Jennifer Aniston works on overdrive to sell the part, wincing with every step to remind you, the viewer, she is experiencing immense pain.
Cake tugs at the heartstrings in certain areas, but the messy plot and intense acting cover up the better parts of the film.
Cake exists to convey the odd habits of coping of its central character. While I rub fingernails, Claire does much crazier things. Cake was an interesting watch but too messy to recommend.
Verdict: 3 out of 5