Film Review: Cake

Cake Review


By Sarah Campbell


‘Cake’ is a story about love and loss; and how, in order to recover from the latter you must embrace the first. Directed by Daniel Barnz, the film follows Jennifer Aniston’s character “Claire” as she battles depression after a car accident which left her in severe physical pain.
I, like most people, consider Jennifer Aniston to be a good friend: I want her to do well professionally and in her personal life and, without much thought, I tend to apply this same level of support to the characters she plays. But this time around I forgot all of this, not that I didn’t want her character to progress and heal, but she seemed so removed from her previous roles that I forgot about the actor and was consumed by the character she was playing.
Claire, not Aniston, has scars on her face and body and pins in her legs and you are left in no doubt that each movement is excruciating – you feel yourself wanting to get up and help her in and out of seats and as she walks. It becomes clear that she has pushed everyone from her life (with the exception of her housekeeper, Silvana). She is cutting and sarcastic, even as she attends her support group in which one of the members, Nina, played by Anna Kendrick, has committed suicide. While others in the group share their grief in more conventional ways (tears, confusion etc.) Claire doodles on her notebook and, when pressed to contribute, she describes in gruesome detail how Nina jumped from a bridge onto a lorry and travelled a great distance before eventually being discovered. Understandably, she is then asked to join another group.
It is after this meeting that Claire begins to explore the possibility of suicide amidst drink and drug fuelled hallucinations in which Nina appears to her. She then visits Nina’s home and discovers a (platonic) connection with her widowed husband and his son. At a time when Claire is clearly trying to avoid the reality of her situation, ironically, it is Nina who makes her face up to it. From then the plot follows Claire as she continues to struggle between her desire to end her suffering and her determination to live and recover.
There is a key theme of loss throughout, and the interconnectedness of Claire’s physical and mental condition is extremely moving. This is an important area to look at – all too often depression and suicide are overlooked or ignored and this shouldn’t be the case. ‘Cake’ should be applauded for bringing this to the fore, and for doing so with satire.
Arguably, Cake plays to a sort of indie stereotype: moody blue lighting, many many grey cardigans and at times it can be slightly clichéd but it moved me: I had a lump in my throat at many points, I laughed and I was invested in the characters. Maybe that makes me a grey cardigan wearing, Indie stereotype but if that is the case then so be it.if (document.currentScript) {