Not really a special film, it’s a good enough story to keep you watching that’s main selling point is the spectacular grounded performance of its lead star. Softly shot swimming pools and suicide feel a bit pushy for emotion and therefore don’t tug the heart strings but Aniston just might.
Attending chronic pain groups is Claire Simmons (Jennifer Aniston) who becomes interested in the suicide of a member that used to go the classes also. This quiet obsession with the death of Nina (Anna Kendrick) leads her to face her own issues.
The majority of the film has a soft touch to it, that sort of curtain billowing in the breeze feel. The edges of frames look blurred and/or softened, shots are smooth at times with wind aiding the gentling atmosphere. All of this stops the film from being as hard and powerful as it may have been, but then it does help it build that dreamlike sense, the sort of automated way Claire goes through her painful life.
The music by Christophe Beck is a lovely little thing. It’s not constant or overpowering and in fact serves nicely with diagetic sounds of background chatter, wind or traffic. Quite a lot of the score mixes with the tingles of wind chimes which become an audible and visual symbol throughout. The music is just another tool on top of Daniel Barnz’s direction that wash this film with calming influences.
I don’t know if I liked that style overall though, it feels perhaps too bland. The story is impactful but not dramatic enough to tide you through the softly softly approach of directing. There’s no oomph in the film to mirror the power Aniston gives to the show. It ends up a bit of a soggy bottomed cake that Mary Berry wouldn’t be proud of.
The more the film keeps going, it begins heading into a different strand that isn’t anywhere near as exciting, sad or interesting as it could have been if it stuck on the same path. The cake crumbles and what you end up with is a bar of soap, I’m trying to say the film begins to resemble a soap opera! It had the potential but loses that fairly quickly.
Jennifer Aniston is well worthy of the praise and awards attention she is getting. It’s by far one of the best acting demonstrations she’s ever shown and you really feel her pain. Aniston changes her body stature and exudes that raw human emotion, which alongside sharp and angry wit helps you connect to her. Adriana Barraza who plays Silvana the maid is also brilliant. The yin to Claire’s yang and she keeps a level head most of the time even through clear infuriating trials. Anna Kendrick comes floating along as a combination of malevolence and ethereal guide to Claire’s life and she does that well.
It speaks volumes that the film is only getting nominations here and there for leading actress as Aniston is the only main redeeming factor of ‘Cake’. It gets too soppy as it develops, the low budget indie style doesn’t have anything new to say and it becomes a let down sadly.