“Cake” falls short of potential

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“Cake” falls short of potential

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provided by imdb.com

Kelly Wynne, Features Editor

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2.5/5 stars

I was excited to see “Cake,” partially because of my love for Jennifer Aniston, but also because of the emotionally raw concept portrayed in the trailers. When I left the theater, I was disappointed by the failure to pull together the storyline in a way that would aid the sentimentality of the film.

The movie follows the day-to-day life of a woman named Claire Simmons (Aniston), battling chronic pain, as well as coming to terms with a tragedy that rewrote her life. Although the heartbreak is never fully elucidated, viewers come to assume the narrative through brief references and Claire’s full body scars, sparingly framed by the camera.

As the movie begins it is immediately apparent that Claire has a serious prescription drug addiction and has had trouble coming to terms with her immobility. This causes her to have a bitter outlook and heartless attitude towards most everyone that crosses her path.

As the movie goes on, Claire begins to have visions of a young woman who committed suicide from her support group, Nina, played by Anna Kendrick. The visions propel her into a deep obsession with the woman’s story, as well as the family Nina left behind.

“Cake” focuses on tugging at viewers emotionally in small stretches of deep sentiment, but lacks an overall focus. As moviegoers observe the path that Claire takes, there are no events that jump out as major turning points. Those which seem to be life altering prove to be just bumps in the road as the plot fails to pull together the emotional impact on not only Claire, but the characters surrounding her.

The fault was in the failure to articulate interpersonal relationships, while the script gave too much attention to the dramatics. Unlikely friendships formed throughout the film, all of which viewers could anticipate accelerating. At the end I was left feeling unsatisfied with the state of most of the film’s relationships. Too often a character would enter the picture as an important part of Claire’s life, never to be seen in the plotline again.

For example, within the first 20 minutes of the film, Claire is seen as the mistress to a handyman working at her house. After his departure from her home he is never seen again, pushing out any possibility of a major story advancement. Similar holes are found with a man related to Claire’s accident as well as Claire’s ex husband, leaving certain scenes feeling pointless and looking like a way to fill space.

 

The focus on true, raw depression was the best part of the movie. The concept was not over-glamorized in any way. I feel the overall argument of the movie would have been much more powerful to viewers if it had only tied in the effects of Claire’s emotions on those other than Claire and occasionally her caregiver. The movie was a tear-jerker. But there were too many questions in the plot, blocking the possibility to really feel for Claire throughout each breakdown.

That’s not to discredit the acting abilities of those involved. Each character portrayed exactly whom they were supposed to. Aniston embodied a life-sick, depressive woman in such a beautiful way, giving her resume even more of an impressive line up. The shortcomings were completely in the writing and the multiple missed opportunities in direction.

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