Cake Blu-ray Review: Learning to Live Again

A film about how grief stalls our lives and how we can learn to get unstuck
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Cake is the story of Claire Bennett (Jennifer Aniston), a woman living with chronic pain after a tragic accident. She is in the midst of a divorce from her husband Jason (Chris Messina), addicted to pain pills, and often suicidal. After Nina (Anna Kendrick), a member of her pain support group commits suicide, Claire begins to see her as a drug- and pain-induced hallucination. Although Claire and Nina were not close or involved with one another’s lives, Claire begins to learn what she can about Nina’s life and death. With the help of her housekeeper turned caretaker Silvana (Adriana Barraza), Claire trucks across town to the site of Nina’s suicide and eventually to her house where she meets Nina’s widow Roy (Sam Worthington). The two begin a complicated relationship fueled by grief and dark humor as they both figure out how to get unstuck in their lives and move forward.

Jennifer Aniston delivers a moving and powerful performance. She not only embodies Claire in an emotional sense, but a physical one as well. The pacing of this film and how Aniston moves through it leaves the audience with a sense of the daily struggle of those who struggle with chronic pain. However, the film isn’t just about physical pain, Cake is a story about the extreme emotional pain that comes from loss and grief.  

Adrianna Barraza also delivers a fantastic performance as Silvana. While so many others in Claire’s life have been pushed away, Silvana stays. Barraza plays the character with a subtlety and motivation that leaves the audience believing in the reality of the character.

Felicity Huffman plays Annette, the leader of Claire’s chronic pain support group, Though Huffman’s part is small, she delivers a very believable performance as a therapist who is not only handling the emotional baggage of her clients, but who has to set very clear boundaries with Claire who has hijacked the support group and Annette to serve her own needs.

Sam Worthington and Anna Kendrick also accomplish a lot with their roles. Kendrick brings a darkness to the film that beautifully matches Aniston’s character. Worthington does a great job playing a man who is angry and on the verge of falling apart due to his grief.

The Cake Blu-ray comes with a few extras on the disc. There are two featurettes The Icing on the Cake: Meet the Cast and The Many Layers of Cake: Learning to Live Again. Both of these give a little more information about the characters and the film, but I would not have missed them if not on the disc. The extras section also includes the theatrical trailer and a sneak peak of the film.

Cake is not a tidy film that ties up all the loose ends and solves all of the conflicts. All of the actors in this film embody the emotional messiness of real people in the midst of grief and everyday life. This film delivers some incredibly funny moments and some incredibly painful ones as well.

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