Cake (2014 film)
Cake is a 2014 American drama film directed by Daniel Barnz, written by Patrick Tobin, and starring Jennifer Aniston, Adriana Barraza, Felicity Huffman, William H. Macy, Anna Kendrick, and Sam Worthington. It debuted in the Special Presentations section of the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Daniel Barnz|
|Produced by||Ben Barnz |
|Written by||Patrick Tobin|
|Starring||Jennifer Aniston |
William H. Macy
|Music by||Christophe Beck|
|Edited by||Kristina Boden|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures (United Kingdom, Netherlands, Japan, Switzerland, Germany, France and Italy) |
Cinelou Releasing (United States)
|Box office||$2.9 million|
Cake received mixed reviews and was a box-office bomb, grossing $2.9 million against its $7-10 million budget. However, Aniston's dramatic performance received positive reviews and brought her nominations for the Screen Actors Guild Award and Golden Globe Award.
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Over a year after surviving a car accident that killed her son, former Los Angeles defense attorney Claire Bennett is left physically and emotionally disabled — and heavily scarred — as she struggles to cope with chronic pain. Claire is in constant pain and is hostile to most people. However, she sweetly manipulates her pain management doctor who prescribes her the pain medication. Claire is assisted by her devoted housekeeper, Silvana, who has become both caretaker and chauffeur and who selflessly looks after all of Claire's needs. Because of the horrible accident, Claire refuses to sit up in the car, and lies down while being driven everywhere.
At this moment in her life, Claire is abusing her pain medication to avoid dealing with her chronic pain, the death of her son (for which she feels responsible even though she was not at fault in the accident), and the recent suicide of a close friend, Nina, in her chronic pain support group. Even though ambivalent, Claire has decided to kill herself. She has already distanced herself from her husband Jason, asking him to move out.
She then successfully distances herself from her chronic pain support group. Claire cruelly addresses the suicide of Nina, who jumped off a highway overpass only to land on a truck headed to Mexico, leading to delays in recovering her body. Annette, the group therapist, later asks Claire to find another group to deal with her anger.
Claire relies on the opioids percocet and oxycontin, but to ease her pain has to resort to illegally buying additional pain medication in Tijuana. Claire also abuses alcohol, which causes her vivid dreams and hallucinations about Nina. Dream Nina drags Claire into the pool and holds her underwater before Claire breaks free and surfaces.
Claire attends physical therapy in the pool but is uncooperative; her exasperated physical therapist explains she will inform the doctor there has been no improvement in six months, which could jeopardize Claire's supply of pain medication. Following her session, Claire takes body weights and jumps into the pool - seemingly to kill herself, sitting on the bottom of the pool for a long time before releasing the weights and rising to the surface.
Claire has Silvana drive her to the site of Nina's suicide, where Claire meets an LA Metro Rail worker who witnessed it from a distance to find out how long Nina waited before she jumped. The worker describes how long Nina stood there, leading Claire to speculate that Nina was not 100 percent certain about killing herself (just as Claire herself is not certain). The worker responds that Nina was 100 percent successful in killing herself. Claire later dreams of walking out onto the same overpass and jumping.
At the threat of a lawsuit, Annette gives Claire Nina's home address. Claire visits Nina's house with a fictitious story about having lived there to meet Nina's husband, Roy. Roy was tipped off about Claire's arrival by Annette and confronts her as she is leaving. Their subsequent conversation leads to the reason of Claire's visit - Claire asks Roy what he would say to his wife now (to gage how Jason would feel if Claire committed suicide). Roy angrily responds that he hates Nina for ruining his and his son's lives.
Over the commonality of loss and its isolation, Claire befriends Roy. Over the next few days they have meals together and sleep next to one another, because neither likes to sleep alone. They go to Nina's grave, where Roy hangs a wind chime. One day Claire surprises Roy by coming to his house at night, where she steals Nina's leftover percocet. Nina returns in Claire's dreams, chastising Claire for using people.
While Claire is having dinner with Roy and his son, Leonard, the driver who caused the horrible car accident shows up at Claire's house to apologize, saying he is distraught with guilt. Claire physically attacks him, releasing some of the anger she has been holding on to. Afterwards, Claire mindlessly overdoses on the pain medication, but then forces herself to vomit the pills up before passing out. She is taken to the hospital, where she dreams of Nina presenting her with a birthday cake with six lit candles. Dream Nina explains her guilt of not being able to make a homemade birthday cake for her son because of her pain, which she shared in group before her suicide.
Claire is discharged from the hospital and stays drug free, but forces Silvana to drive her to Riverside, where she had her first date with Jason at a drive-in movie. Claire wanders away and lies down on the railroad tracks nearby, hallucinating a conversation with Nina, who gets Claire to admit she was a good mother. Just then Claire hears Silvana calling for her. She gets up off the track and Nina vanishes. Silvana finally loses her patience, launching into a tirade in Spanish against Claire for abusing everyone and pushing away Jason, who is also suffering from the loss of his son. Her rant is interrupted when Claire notices their car has been stolen, forcing them to stay in a motel and get a rental car to return to Los Angeles the next day.
The next morning, Claire meets Becky (who was trying to steal from them), a teen from Boise, who wants to go to LA to become an actress. Claire offers to drive Becky to LA and then offers her $100 to make her a homemade cake. At home, Claire discovers a giant framed photo of Claire and her son on the wall with a note from Jason reading "He belongs here". She breaks down crying and calls Jason to thank him for the gift.
The next day, Silvana wakes Claire to tell her that Becky stole Claire's wallet and left, but only after she made her the homemade cake Claire requested. Claire takes the homemade cake to Roy for his son's birthday as a thank you to Nina. She visits her son's grave, where Silvana hangs up a wind chime in a nearby tree. On the ride home, Claire decides to finally sit up straight in the car.
- Jennifer Aniston as Claire Bennett
- Adriana Barraza as Silvana
- Anna Kendrick as Nina Collins
- Sam Worthington as Roy Collins
- Mamie Gummer as Bonnie
- Felicity Huffman as Annette
- William H. Macy as Leonard
- Chris Messina as Jason Bennett
- Lucy Punch as Nurse Gayle
- Evan O'Toole as Casey Collins
- Britt Robertson as Becky
- Paula Cale as Carol
- Ashley Crow as Stephanie
- Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as Arturo
- Camille Guaty as Tina
- Allen Maldonado as Buddy
- Camille Mana as Nurse Salazar
- Julio Oscar Mechoso as Dr. Mata
- Pepe Serna as Nuncio
- Misty Upham as Liz
- Rose Abdoo as Innocencia
- Alma Martinez as Irma
On February 10, 2014, it was announced that Jennifer Aniston would play the lead in Cake. Daniel Barnz, the director, said "Of the zillions of Jennifer Aniston fans, I might be the biggest one of all. I've especially loved her more dramatic performances, and I can’t wait to watch her tackle a role that has such a brilliantly funny voice and so much raw pain (hats off to writer Patrick Tobin). I’m honored to be collaborating with Ben, Kristin and Courtney, and it’s exciting that Cake will be the first film under the Cinelou banner. It feels like we’re all taking a leap of faith together, and that’s pretty thrilling." On March 15, Mexican actress Adriana Barraza was also announced in the cast of the drama. The rest of the cast was revealed on April 1.
Cake was released in select theatres on December 31, 2014 by Cinelou Films, before going on general release on January 23, 2015 by Freestyle Releasing. The film was released on DVD & Blu-ray April 21, 2015.
Cake received mixed reviews from critics. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 48% based on 126 reviews, with an average rating of 5.83/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Cake finds Jennifer Aniston making the most of an overdue opportunity to test her dramatic chops, but it lacks sufficient depth or warmth to recommend for all but her most ardent fans." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 49 out of 100, based on 38 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
At the Toronto premiere, the cast received a standing ovation. The performances of Jennifer Aniston and Adriana Barraza have been highly praised by some critics. Pete Hammond of Deadline described Aniston's performance as "heartbreakingly good... There are really no tricks to this performance. It's raw and real, poignant and unexpected." Clayton Davis of Awards Circuit spoke of Aniston's performance as "the single best performance by an actress this year... Aniston's performance is something that most actresses will pray to be able to achieve, but never come close." In his review for HitFix, Gregory Ellwood wrote that "Aniston makes you believe in Claire's pain. She makes you believe this character is at her lowest point and only she can pull herself out of it. There is no Oscar scene. There is no massive crying fit. It's a complete performance from beginning to end and she deserves the appropriate accolades for it." Of Aniston's performance, David Nusair of Reel Film Reviews wrote "...the actress steps into the shoes of her thoroughly damaged character to an often revelatory extent." Sheri Linden of the Los Angeles Times also spoke positively of Aniston's performance, writing "Aniston lends the role an impressively agonized physicality and brings ace timing to the screenplay's welcome gallows humor."
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