Like many others who have commented on this piece before, I was never a fan of Rachel, and that dislike naturally affected my perception and judgment of -- as well as expectations toward -- Aniston and her work. The portrayal of Claire caused some massive adjustments, which makes me really joyous. Aniston's character in Cake is interesting and convincing in so many ways, and it gives food for thought in so many aspects -- it makes you wonder what alternative path(s) as an actress she might have taken in the absence of Friends. But never mind all that. Here's hoping (and now also very much expecting -- yeah, revealing one's talent can be a real curse) that we'll get a lot more of THAT actress in the future.
The development of Claire's character, and thus the film as such, progresses at a good pace. Don't be turned off by claims that the first half is too slow, it absolutely isn't. Portraying the many facets of pain that represent Claire's reality couldn't possibly be done more quickly, it would be entirely inappropriate. In fact, I assume the director had a lot more material in that section which he was forced to cut to appeal to a broader audience (which is a real shame).
Similarly, don't be misled by claims that much of the first part of Cake is a '(self-)pity party'. Whoever spouts such nonsense simply lacks any experience of what chronic pain is like. In a sense, such people are to be admired and congratulated because they seem to have lived rather luckily. On the down-side, lack of personal experience comes with lack of true understanding and empathy, which is unfortunate. If anything, it's rather amazing that Claire manages to operate as well as she does. Many, perhaps most, others in her position wouldn't. That she is snarky and short in her interaction with others cannot possibly surprise, constant pain does that to a person.
I also liked that the full spectrum of pains was not revealed immediately. We slowly learn that chronic bodily misery is not the only part of Claire's hell. Rather, psychological pains -- and here too, not just one kind -- represent key aspects of the character's daily experience of 'life'. Over the course of the film, more and more agony gets packed on, making you wonder how she's even able to manage anything other than a crawl. In this respect, I actually found the weakness of her suicidal tendencies (as portrayed) quite unconvincing. How could anyone not strongly wish to put an end to this kind of suffering?? (Religion certainly didn't seem to play a preventative role.)
One key question that I wish the film would have had time to consider is how relatively lucky Claire is despite her personal hell. Imagine the same fate had affected not Claire -- who's obviously materially well-off -- but rather her housekeeper Silvana. If Claire's life is agony, what would the existence of an immigrant be like?
All in all, much applauded and recommended.
Action / Drama
Action / Drama
The acerbic, hilarious Claire Bennett becomes fascinated by the suicide of a woman in her chronic pain support group. As she uncovers the details of Nina's suicide and develops a poignant relationship with Nina's husband, she also grapples with her own, very raw personal tragedy.
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April 01, 2015 at 11:45 PM