Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Sam Worthington, Anna Kendrick
Director: Daniel Barnz
Running Time: 102 mins
Cake is an American film about a middle-aged woman who becomes intrigued by the suicide of a young woman from her support group as she is going through recovery from her own personal tragedy.
Well, on the one hand, this is a brilliantly acted film, with a fantastic central performance by Jennifer Aniston in a completely redefining role, but on the other hand, it struggles significantly with pacing and deeper emotional intrigue due to a relatively poor screenplay.
So, let’s talk about how strong Jennifer Aniston’s performance in this film is, because she makes the best of a pretty dull screenplay and turns her character into a hugely dramatic central focus. She clearly shows the trauma and the difficulty of this woman recovering from a painful tragedy, and makes her sometimes antagonistic and disgusting actions justified and understandable, making you unexpectedly support this woman despite the fact that she behaves horribly so much of the time, which really shows the importance of Aniston’s performance in creating a character that you can relate to and easily understand.
What’s also impressive about her performance is that it’s just so far away from what you’d expect from the Friends star. She’s normally a very generic character in rom-coms here and there, and she rarely makes anything good enough to get excited about, but here, with a completely different appearance and aura, akin to Steve Carell in Foxcatcher, she does something hugely surprising.
However, that performance, while fantastic, is pretty much the only really strong point of this film. Away from that, it’s not a particularly interesting story to follow when it’s not a direct focus on the central character, and its pacing is at times painfully slow, making it very difficult to keep a proper intrigue throughout.
The problem is that, whilst Aniston succeeds in creating real emotion for her character, the film as a whole isn’t that emotionally hard-hitting, and that leaves some of the more reflective parts of the story, where things can be a lot more silent, slow and drawn-out, to feel simply boring, because you just don’t have that all-round emotional intrigue to the story.
Overall, this gets a 6.8, because despite a winning central performance, this film doesn’t create the real drama and deep emotion needed for a truly hard-hitting story.