First time screen writer hits the mark with a movie about a woman struggling with chronic pain after a horrific accident.
A friend of mine invited me to a screening of ‘Cake’ with Jennifer Aniston this week via a text message. I answered him back saying, “What does the artist Cake and Jen have in common?” He of course responds in the most gentlest manner possible, “It’s Aniston’s new film called ‘Cake’!” By now, I am thinking he is regretting asking me to come with him to the screening. And before I lose you as the reader for sharing my brain fart moment, there’s a good reason why I shared my stupidity with you.
There are tons of films that come out of the indie circuit that don’t get a lot of promotion or marketing because of limited budgets. “Going viral is not an everyday occurrence,” said a friend of mine who is the VP of Communications for one of these film houses. Take ‘Cake’ for example, a phenomenal cast ensemble – Sam Worthington, Anna Kendrick, William H. Macy, Felicity Huffman to name a few, as well as being introduced at the Toronto Film Festival, and of course backed by one of the most power house females in the industry – Jennifer Aniston. Even with all of this behind it, I really hadn’t heard much about the film.
So, for the average movie goer here is a little glimpse into Jen’s latest project.
‘Cake’ Film Review
Some of the characters could have been easily turned into cliches we have seen in dozens of films, however the cast of ‘Cake’ takes on a refreshing portrayal. If you sum up the film it would sound like this, a typical rich woman with problems, being haunted by a ghost, and her immigrant housekeeper being her only solace. But the talent of the cast really sets this movie apart from any cliche.
Jennifer is completely stripped down and de-glamourized for the role of Claire. She is dealing with the aftermath of a horrific accident that leaves her with awful scars all over her body, and her coping mechanism is sarcasm, questionable behavior, pill popping, and suicidal tendencies. Even though on paper she is an unlikable person, she has these very redeemable traits. Throughout the film we understand her anger. This character is diverse, deep and complicated. She may seem like a “raving bitch,” as she calls herself, but she continues to alienate anyone who wants to help her. All that is left is the one person who is paid to put up with her – her housekeeper Silvana.
Silvana, played by Adriana Barraza is by far one of the best actors to portray a Mexican immigrant housekeeper leaving out all the stereotypes that come with that type of role. As well as kudos to the screen writer Patrick Tobin for writing Silvana so dynamic. Adriana Barraza’s performance was comedic, understanding and you never questioned why she stuck around to take care of Claire. It was a woman who saw another human in much need of help. Stand out performance for Barraza!
We are also introduced to Roy, played by Sam Worthington, in a very unconventional manner. Claire’s drug addiction to pain killers begin to give her hallucinations of Nina, played by Anna Kendrick, the woman who committed suicide from her support group.
[Aside: At first this was a bit surprising, to have a ghost just appear in a film that definitely didn’t have this type of tone, but the interaction between the two women as the film goes on really sold me on the way the director and screen writer decided to portray this part of the story.]
Nina feeds into Claire’s fascination of suicide, (as well as explaining the narrative behind the film’s title at the end), this leads Claire to get in touch with Nina’s husband Roy. This relationship is bizarrely funny yet heartfelt. Both seem to be coping with loss and tragedy that only they can understand. It’s not a sexual relationship, but it is immediately very intimate. You realize that Claire is likable, vulnerable and venturesome.
I have to take a second and discuss Sam Worthington’s performance in this film. Sam is best known for actions films. But in this role his quiet mannerisms and emotions really took me aback. I was completely enamored by his performance. He didn’t overact he simply seemed to fit inside this movie. In supporting roles, it’s in the small acting subtleness that makes an actor stand out. Sam’s performance was the most surprising for me. He needs more indie roles casting agents!
For sure Jennifer stood out as well, but it wasn’t just the makeup-less face, she really dug deep and it completely paid off. I absolutely think she deserves praise and accolades for this role, for completely shedding her ‘Rachel-ism,” that people like to place her in. I knew she could do this type of role since Good Girl came out. She’s considered a powerhouse because of her proven film record. Maturity may have also played a role in this great performance, which Aniston discussed in the Q&A after the screening. By the way Jason Bateman is a comedic genius!
‘Cake’ deserves more recognition and I hope you put this film on your radar. The subject matter is not mainstream, but the interactions and relationships portrayed definitely are!
My Rating: ★★★★
Writer: Patrick Tobin
Director: Daniel Barnz
Other cast members: Adriana Barraza, Sam Worthington,
Special thanks to The Egyptian Theater for hosting such a great event!