Film review – Cake
When a film begins in a support group session for chronic pain suffers discussing the suicide of a fellow member, you know not to expect a cheerful film with a happy ending. Cake offers neither but does give a harrowing and brutally honest account of the psychological pain of addiction and grief, and the physical pain of recovering from a tragic accident with the occasional glimpse of a love story on the side.
The film follows the life of Claire who has been left severely crippled and heavily scarred after an accident, coming to terms with her grief and suffering. The opening scenes show her writhing in pain, desperately trying to find her last painkiller in her house, lying to doctors for prescriptions and struggling for independency.
The film then becomes even darker as she contemplates suicide, and is haunted by the ghost of her support group friend that ended her own life and left her family behind. Anna Kendrick co-stars as the ghost of Nina, a role that doesn’t fully show her acting talents with a character that is never fully established. As such a crucial plot twist it could have been further developed as her appearances were not resolved or explained, which didn’t do justice to the interesting concept and left the audience with many unanswered questions.
Despite this, the bold and daring storylines are to be commended as they tackle issues that most would feel uncomfortable approaching. The viewers are confronted by so many harsh realities in less than two hours that it risks being all doom and gloom. However, the film manages to strike the balance between bleak and hopeful to ensure that it’s still powerful and moving without being cheesy. This is a rare achievement and sets Cake apart from the usual film that Jennifer Aniston stars in.
This role shows a new side of Aniston as she finally breaks free from her typical glossy rom-com and takes on a challenging and darker character. She is willing to look her worst but act her best. Her hard work has paid off; her performance is raw, convincing and establishes her as a truly talented actress. The creators have done well to make her scars look completely realistic, but Aniston’s physicality of a bitter woman constantly struggling to achieve something as simple as getting out of bed takes that realistic depiction one step further.
Claire’s struggle is hard to watch but frustrating as she doesn’t reveal how she was injured until halfway through the film and still refuses to discuss it. This is an unusual plot choice that was initially confusing but makes the film more complex and memorable by defying the conventions of Hollywood films.
Cake gets off to a slow start and offers some hope for the future but very little in the way of resolution. We see her first steps towards a better future that leaves you caring and thinking about what will happen to her and whether she will beat her demons.
This film is highly recommended, but don’t hold you breath for a happy ending that ties up the loose ends as Cake is far too thought provoking and challenging for anything that simple – 3.5 out of 5 stars.
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Posted on 2nd March 2015 by Elinore Court.
Elinore Court lives at Liberty House in London, she is studying a masters degree in Magazine Journalism at City University.