Star Rating:


Director: Daniel Barnz

Actors: Adriana Barraza, Jennifer Aniston

Release Date: Friday 20th February 2015

Genre(s): Drama

Running time: 102 minutes

Bearing the scars of an undisclosed accident, the spikey Claire Bennett (Aniston) spends her days necking the painkillers she keeps hidden from her saint-like housekeeper Silvana (Adriana Barraza). While the discomfort is there for anyone to see, the deep-seated emotional pain has instilled depression and abrasiveness, which has led to her ejection from her support group, while her physical therapist threatens to tell her doctor that she has made zero improvement in six months . The threat is implicit: no more painkillers. Hallucinating visits from the recently deceased Nina (Kendrick), a member of her support group who committed suicide, leads her to Nina's widower (Worthington) and son (Evan O'Toole)...

Aniston's Big Oscar Push didn't come off but she, which shouldn't surprise anyone who has seen The Good Girl, has the dramatic chops when called upon. Less convincing in the blustery scenes, when she's asked to rant and rave, it's in the quieter moments, when the camera rests on her pained face, that she comes good.

Cake's slow reveal of a painful past is an example of deft writing. We're never privy to what happened, or how Claire's son died; in fact, that her son is dead is only grasped from her giving away toys to her gardener. We don't know when husband (Chris Messina) left: pre accident or post? Patrick Tobin's screenplay mimics Claire's personality; shut off and refusing to deal with anything, the story wanders about in a blur, bouncing from pain to numbness. It doesn't do what's expected. Isn't Worthington supposed to be her saviour?

But there are ropey moments: the runaway whom Claire convinces to come home with her to cook her a cake doesn't work, and the scenes with Kendrick's Nina, more spikey and fun than the expected sullen and down, don't play. Kendrick's first appearance, sipping cocktails while lying on an inflatable water bed in Aniston's pool, encouraging to take her own life, like a tough-love ghost, just doesn't scan.

It doesn't address all the issues it brings up – what exactly it has to say about prescription drug addiction is unclear - but Cake is an engaging drama nonetheless.