“Jennifer Aniston was quite the talk of Hollywood over the past few weeks. Could the former Friends star and usually comedic actress actually pull off an Oscar nomination? Despite other major nominations and accolades, she didn’t score the big one. Still, I had to see it as she portrayed a woman living with severe chronic pain in Cake.
Honestly, I thought she was trying a little too hard in an obviously Oscar bait-y role. It pains to me say it, because I don’t want to knock one of the stronger female characters we’ve seen in the past year (that was incredibly lacking in that area in general), and she really did commit to the role fully, but something was off. Maybe there was a lack of sincerity somewhere, maybe the idea wasn’t as fleshed out as it could have been, maybe the motivation wasn’t right. I’m not sure. It was good and captivating, but not the type of moving performance I was led to expect.
That said, the one that I was enthralled with was Adriana Barraza as Aniston’s caretaker. I hadn’t even recognized her until I saw her name in the end credits. She was Oscar nominated a few years back for Babel, and pretty much the only thing that stuck with me from that movie was her performance. I know, I know, I put way too much stock in this whole Academy Awards thing, but we’ve all got our obsessions. Anyways, she was the one to watch here, giving a fuller range of emotion and what I thought was the more sympathetic performance.
I wonder if part of what turned me off from this film was that it was very difficult to watch, at least for the beginning. As we’re getting to know Aniston’s Claire, we’re seeing glimpses into her daily struggle. With every wince and grimmace you feel some of the pain. I was shifting around in my seat, unable to find a comfortable position. And then, her attitude makes it hard to sympathize with her, another factor that may have turned me (and awards voters) off. She takes a shut-out-the-world approach to dealing, and while you know that bristly exterior is a coping mechanism, it’s still effective.
Still, I’ve gotta give the film props for being unique, at least as far as the issue it’s tackling. Also, it wasn’t afraid to dip its toe into some dark places. The performances were good, but again something was still off somewhere. For me it was worth having seen once, but I don’t know that it’s worth specifically seeking out
Cake – \m/ \m/ \m/”