VOD film review: Cake
Chris Bryant | On 30, Jun 2015
Director: Daniel Barnz
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Sam Worthington, Adriana Barraza
Watch Cake online in the UK: Amazon Prime / Apple TV (iTunes) / TalkTalk TV / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Rakuten TV / Google Play
Cake is a film that revolves around Claire’s (Jennifer Aniston) lonely, painful struggle with herself, after her life takes a tragic turn. Beginning with the suicide of support group member Nina, it follows Claire as she endures physical and mental torment, her scars externalised by her biting anger at everyone she meets. Connecting with Nina’s husband over their fury at the world, Claire begins making small steps towards salvation.
Undoubtably Cake’s biggest success is the subtle designing of Claire herself. Writer Patrick Tobin and Golden Globe-nominated star Jennifer Aniston turn a character who is fully aware of the bitter exterior she forces upon her surroundings into someone entirely relatable. Throughout the slow-paced film, the audience’s interest is entirely driven by this cold individual experiencing total turmoil. It’s a careful piece of work: Claire has few redeeming traits to warrant any forgiveness, but Tobin, Aniston and director Daniel Barnz craft a character whose primary interaction – personified on-screen by Nina (Anna Kendrick) – is with paralysing fear. Her helplessness encourages unity far more than pity; although viewers may not have experienced the tragedy forced upon Claire, the anxiety and injustice she feels is universal.
Alongside Aniston is a quietly brilliant cast. Anna Kendrick shines as Nina, an embodiment of Claire’s subconscious when she’s at her worst, while Sam Worthington’s turn as Nina’s widower is also cause for celebration – he radiates the same resentful quietness as Claire, but always remains sympathetic. Academy Award nominee Adriana Barazza portrays Silvana, Claire’s housekeeper. While that may be her job title, Silvana acts primarily as Claire’s caregiver, conscience and occasional accomplice. Firm, loving and barely tolerant of her employer’s constant drinking and pill-popping, Barazza brings a potential cliché to life, adding passion to her movements and delight to her dialogue.
With music by Christoph Beck, Cake tells a nigh-on hopeless, and often darkly realistic, story, aided by relaxing, happy sounds. Employing ukuleles and wind-chimes, Beck creates a score which complements the difficulties portrayed on-screen with hope.
At 93 minutes, the film tells a simple story in a simple way, allowing the actors to add a dimension of emotion and troubles as they traverse the labour of their daily lives. Revolving around a rude, wealthy divorcee, the picture has the potential to alienate and paint Claire as deserving, or unworthy. In reality, they manage the exact opposite. This is dark, real and innately likeable.
Cake is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.