Saturday, January 31, 2015

Movie Review: "Cake" (2014)

Ticket Price: $9.75
Director: Daniel Barnz
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 42 minutes
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Claire Bennett (Jennifer Aniston) was a lawyer who, because of a car accident, is living with chronic pain and is addicted to prescription pain killers. When Nina (Anna Kendrick), a member of her support group, commits suicide, Claire becomes obsessed with her death. Claire gets to know Nina's widower, Roy (Sam Worthington) and hopes to learn more about the suicide. All the while, Claire is haunted by the memory of Nina and contemplates ending it all herself. 

Many have called the Academy not nominating Jennifer Aniston for Best Actress at the 2015 Oscars a snub, to which we say that we agree. For the first time ever, Jennifer Aniston manages to not annoy us in "Cake," the story of a woman named Claire who has many demons in her life. In an effort to keep the audience guessing, details about Claire's life are purposefully left out or swept under the rug until most impactful moments, but mostly, we had figured out what was going on within the first 10 minutes of the film. She is a very angry main character, and rightfully so given everything she has been through, but I must say, it made me miss a lot of the filmmaker's intended connection to have her be so blasé about everything. Her bitterness is a hard pill to swallow as an audience member, no pun intended, and no matter what the circumstances. Jennifer Aniston does play this role quite well and convincingly, and it is the best dramatic role from her to date. Then, we have Adriana Barraza as Silvana, Claire's sympathetic to a fault housekeeper who is underpaid and overworked, yet sticks around because it is quite obvious that she is Claire's only friend. Her performance is brilliant and we really wish she had been recognized more for her efforts in this film, though she was mostly overshadowed by Aniston. Together, they try to navigate through Claire's mess of a life without killing each other with passive-aggression. When Nina, a woman from her chronic pain support group, commits suicide, Claire is the only one who tells it like it is and how she really feels about the matter. Kicked out of her support group for being brutally honest, she blackmails Annette, the leader of said support group played by Felicity Huffman, for Nina's address. Then, Claire inexplicably turns up on Nina's husband's doorstep seeking what, we don't ever really know. Sympathy? To figure out why Nina committed suicide? To find a confidant in depression? To make a difference in someone else's life? All of the above? Nina's husband, bitter and jaded about her suicide and the situation she has left behind, is played by Sam Worthlesston, we mean Sam Worthington, and he and Claire bond over their shared sadness for their losses. We guess he does a fine job in this movie. William H. Macy, who plays a character from Claire's past, and Chris Messina, Claire's ex-husband, are both critically underused in this movie.

Claire and I have a lot in common when it comes to chronic pain, though hers was caused by an accident, not by birth. I can completely identify with not feeling good because of my rheumatoid arthritis and, as an unfortunate side effect of both medication and constant pain, unwillingly taking it out on the people who are closest to me because I don't feel good. The difference between my situation and Claire's is that hers seemed to need a loooooooooooot of pills to get her through the day. True, I do take quite a bit of medication, but it is not addict level status (though I'm sure some doctors might argue with this statement).

We are not disputing the fact that "Cake" as a whole is a very, very dramatic and Oscar baity film for Jennifer Aniston, especially considering that she produced it, too, but that doesn't mean it's bad by any stretch of the imagination. There are bits and pieces of the story I didn't care for, but I can't quite find the words to articulate why. Maybe it has to do with the aforementioned lack of connection, even though I can relate on a very intimate and personal level. I could also dispute some of the events in the movie as someone who takes a lot of medication myself, but that's neither here nor there. BigJ did like this movie a bit more than I did and he totally thinks there was snubbage all around. All in all, "Cake" was a good movie, though some might disagree. We have seen Jennifer Aniston in worse.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 48%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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