“Cake”: How to Get Kicked Out of Your Support Group

Most of the buzz about the panned movie Cake has been focused on Jennifer Aniston‘s role as the lead, Claire Simmons, including her deglammed look for the part.

There are reasons, of course, for the latter. A few descriptions of Claire:

Tom Long, Detroit News: “We meet Claire at a support group for chronic pain sufferers, where the topic of conversation is Nina (Anna Kendrick), a group member who has recently committed suicide by jumping off a freeway overpass.”

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: “…(W)hen you’re in pain, who has time for diplomacy? Within her first five minutes of screen time, she unnerves her touchy-feely support group and gets a nervous phone call from her ex-husband. She is drinking and taking pills around the clock and seems to be half hoping she will accidentally kill herself. Her only contact is with her maid — Claire is well off — played by Adriana Barraza with subtlety and complex emotion.”

Melissa Maerz, Entertainment Weekly: “Claire is so bent on remaining miserable that she’s alienated her nice-guy husband (Chris Messina), her physical therapist (Mamie Gummer), and her support-group leader [Felicity Huffman], who ousts her from the circle.”

More About the Plot

Related to her own suicidal impulses, Claire becomes fixated on Nina’s suicide—she even dreams of her and talks to her ghost. Inkoo Kang, The Wrap: “Claire…begins visiting Nina’s widower Roy (Sam Worthington), the only other person in her life for whom rage is their default emotion. ‘Anger feels good,’ they agree. Roy provides Claire with some much-needed male company, but their relationship evolves into something much more complex (and, again, more believable) than a straightforward romance.”

Gradually some answers are revealed regarding Claire’s issues, and “cake” makes its meaningful appearance. Eventually, furthermore, Claire’s emotions are no longer limited to anger.

The Trailer

J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader: “Cake follows the formulaic arc of catharsis and healing too closely to be considered a major film, but its careful balance of humor and anguish, its sense of mirthless drollery, isn’t something you see every day. Whether or not Aniston ever gets another role like this one, I have a hard time imagining anyone else in it—and that’s the sign of a genuine actor.”

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