Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Adriana Barazza, Sam Worthington, Anna Kendrick, Felicity Huffman, Chris Messina, Mamie Gummer, Britt Robertson, Lucy Punch, William H. Macy
Directed By: Daniel Barnz
Definitely not a happy movie. This is a lot like Still Alice, in that it’s a small indie film that rides on the performance of its female lead. This is absolutely the best performance that Jennifer Aniston has ever given in her entire life, on anything ever. It’s like when Charlize Theron did Monster, or when Halle Berry did Monster’s Ball. Everyone just assumed they were good-not-great actors, then they had a crazy performance, and everyone just went apeshit for them. Now they’re all taken seriously as actresses. Cake will do that for Aniston. She’s brilliant. Her role is actually stronger and more explosive than Julianne Moore’s more restrained performance in Still Alice. Both are brilliant, it’s just that Aniston’s is more flashy. Either of them could win Best Actress this year. They’re both on another level.
I liked the movie a bit more than other people have, and found that the supporting cast (Barazza, Worthington, Kendrick) really complimented Aniston’s character well. Aniston plays Claire Bennett, who suffers from chronic pain, and can barely get through a day. An acquaintance (Kendrick) in her support group recently committed suicide, and Claire allows that to consume her. She has a maid (Barazza), who takes care of her more than she really needs to. She cares that Claire is slipping deeper and deeper into pain and depression. Claire even attaches herself to the widower (Worthington) her friend left behind, and her kid. As we are later reminded, the pain is real, and Claire really did suffer an unimaginable tragedy.
Jennifer Aniston, again, is a revelation. If her name isn’t called in Thursday’s batch of nominations, someone should actually be arrested for committing a crime. It’s an Oscar bait film, an Oscar bait performance, opening in Oscar season. Don’t fuck this up, Academy. If more people had actually seen Cake, I would expect Adriana Barazza to get more traction. She’s like the other half to Aniston’s Claire, and compliments her and enhances her performance. She’s the Ethan Hawke to Aniston’s Denzel Washington. A great performance made better by a strong supporting role. Worthington and Kendrick also turn in good performances, and William H Macy is used perfectly in a single devastating scene.
Cake is not without its slight imperfections. I honestly didn’t understand Britt Robertson’s presence in the film, or her addition to the story. Other than the fact that maybe someone was like “why is this film called Cake?” and then someone was like “Oh! Lets have someone make a cake!” and then her character was born. She feels so out of place in the story, like an after thought. I don’t understand. The film would have been fine without her. Someone else could have made that damn cake.
FINAL GRADE: A-