Cake is directed by Daniel Barnz who I’m not familar with but you might have seen Won’t Back Down (2012) which starred Viola Davies and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Cake stars Jennifer Anniston (who also has an executive producer credit) as, Claire Bennett, a women in a Chronic Pain Syndrome group who is struggling to put her life back together after a severe accident. She has become addicted to pain killers and seems determined to push everyone away yet is happy to use people as she sees fit.
The film is essentially a character study as opposed to a journey of redemption that you would expect before going in to see it. That attempt at redemption is there but let’s just say there are plenty of set backs along the way. I found this a tough film to like. This is predominantly because of the Claire’s uncaring, selfish and at times cruel character. I think the film was trying to invoke sympathy for her situation but I couldn’t do it. It was her selfish streak that I couldn’t cope with – I know I’ve been mean to you for the last twenty minutes but I need to you to give me a ride across town now.
Cake opts not to follow the obvious path for this type of film which denies you the emotional high that you would expect as reward for enduring the more difficult elements of the movie. I have a suspicion that this was a deliberate creative choice and was part of this film being a vehicle to launch Jennifer Anniston as the serious actress. Don’t get me wrong, she is good in the lead role but the film suffers as a result. The other stand out performance is Adriana Barraza who plays Claire’s Mexican housekeeper Silvana. She shows incredible dedication to her boss and brings some much needed energy and colour to the screen.
I was hoping for plenty of acidic humour and amusing exchanges with the Anna Kendrick character, Nina, who is another member of the support group who has committed suicide and appears in Claire’s drug induced dreams. Unfortunately, her appearances are fleeting and superfluous. Sam Worthington as Nina’s widow offers solid if uninspiring support. The one thing I will say in this film’s favour is that it is never boring. It’s well acted across the board and there is always something going on. I would put Cake into the category of glad I watched it but probably won’t see it again. My rating 3/5.