Playing a woman who suffers chronic pain after an accident also involving her son, Jennifer Aniston is Claire in Daniel Barnz’ Cake. Formerly a lawyer, and spouting the requisite acerbic language, Claire makes pain counselling so painful for the other group members that she’s asked to find a new therapist. Instead, she inveigles her loyal Mexican housekeeper (Barraza) into driving her south of the border in search of extra Percocet whilst attempting to explore her emotional needs with the husband (Worthington) of chronic pain suicide victim Nina (Kendrick).
It’s dour stuff, especially for a comedic actress. But Aniston does a surprisingly good job of milking her character’s rage-and-resignation spectrum. Unfortunately, this is pretty much where the acting buck stops as script and screenplay land Aniston as flat on her back as her character. It really doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Claire needs to acknowledge her neediness in order to heal, but drawing a process of winced smiles and emotional obstruction out over 100 minutes feels like a form of perverse indulgence. Aniston makes this bearable, but shows a potential that leaves one regretful rather than grateful.
Cake | Directed by Daniel Barnz (USA 2014) with Jennifer Aniston, Sam Worthington, Adriana Barraza. Starts April 9
Originally published in issue #137, April 2015