Cake Movie Review
Jennifer Aniston gave a great performance in Cake. Some people expected her to receive an Oscar nomination. She didn't. Some people were surprised.
Interesting, especially because at the time the Oscar nominees were announced, almost no one had seen the damn movie. Those who had knew something that everyone else didn't: Cake isn't that good. And you're kidding yourself if you think the quality of a movie has no bearing on one's chances to be recognized for an individual award.
Cake is about a depressed woman suffering from chronic pain--stemming from a car accident that killed her son--who is so miserable that even her therapists don't want anything to do with her. The only person who [barely] tolerates her is her housekeeper (Adriana Barraza). Oh, and Sam Worthington, because he doesn't have anything better to do with his time.
The problem is that the woman doesn't have a whole lot to do, which means the audience doesn't have a whole lot to watch. Anniston is terrific--she is very convincing as a miserable person, and I know this because I felt how she felt by the end of the movie. It's not that Cake is especially bad--it's just not particularly good. The story basically entails Anniston being miserable for 100 minutes. Sure, she looks like she may have turned a corner by the end of the movie, but by the time that comes about, I didn't really care.
To call Cake emotionally flat probably isn't fair, but it's sort of emotionally flat.
Director Daniel Barnz and writer Patrick Tobin don't help themselves: the whole Anna Kendrick hallucinations are really dumb and distracting and out of place, and seem to exist solely so that Anna Kendrick could be in the movie. The filmmakers never do a great job of linking the death of Kendrick's character to Anniston's state of mind, so each scene she's in comes off as a forced attempt to make Cake more interesting than what it isn't.
As harsh as this review is, Cake isn't dreadful. Anniston's performance helps mask at least some of the film's issues, and the interactions between her and Barraza are somewhat entertaining. But the movie doesn't have a lot going for it, and that's why Jennifer Aniston wasn't nominated for an Academy Award.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.