Cake begins with a therapy group coming to terms with the suicide of young mother Nina (Anna Kendrick), and instantly shows that the film will be liberally sprinkled with black humour.
Claire Bennett (Jennifer Aniston) is suffering from chronic pain, with the actress’ acting being to the point where you can feel every last twinge in her body as she simply turns around.
She has no friends and relies solely on her housemaid/carer Silvana (Adriana Barraza). You get the impression that she’s alienated everyone else in her life to the point where they’ve all moved away from her. In addition, she finds it very difficult to let others into her life, particularly those who are new.
All we know at the start is that she’s had a traumatic and life-changing incident in her past which has left her being in chronic pain, and with scars all over her face and body. The film also doesn’t provide all the answers in their fullest form, but rather hints at them and lets you fill in the blanks. This is a sign of immensely clever writing and, as such, I don’t want to detail much in addition to that.
Cake also doesn’t provide any easy answers to life’s problems.
Jennifer Aniston is a very underrated actress, who gets pigeon-holed as the star of Friends and a slew of so-so comedies, but while a lot of those comedies were not great, she proves that really does excel in the drama stakes, as also shown in 2002’s The Good Girl, and I’d like to see her more in this style of film.
Adriana Barraza, as Silvana, makes for a good sounding board to Claire’s frustration; and Sam Worthington puts in a decent turn as widower Roy. The other cast members also play a part but, again, I don’t want to divulge any more than that as it’s best experienced without known too much. Just know that this is a solid drama, led by a captivating performance by Ms Aniston.
And the first thing I thought of, when a film called Cake involved the taking of drugs, I couldn’t help but think of the classic Brass Eye episode , where Christopher Morris conned a number of dumb celebs into saying daft things about how “Cake is a made-up drug”, because Morris had made it all up!
The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition and looks as pin-sharp as you’d expect, but Claire’s world is not a colourful one (except for her pool), but it still gets across her dark world perfectly.
The sound is in DTS HD 5.1 and it’s generally just used for dialogue and ambience, so don’t expect this to rock your speakers.
The extras are way too slim for a new release. Just two brief featurettes:
- The Many Layers To Cake: Learning To Live Again (3:35): The real-life tale of stunt coordinator Stacy Courtney, who was hit by a boat propellor and, thus, provided the basis for this movie.
- The Icing on the Cake: Meet The Cast (3:30): Producer Ben Barnz talks about how she has no make-up on. Well, I think she clearly does, but rather like Keeley Hawes in Line of Duty, it’s a certain kind that makes her look like she’s wearing no make-up, as you have to have some so that light doesn’t bounce off your face in front of the camera.
There isn’t even the trailer, but you can see that here.
Thankfully, other aspects of the disc have had some great attention paid to them. Dialogue comes in 5 flavours: English (the only one in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), plus DD5.1 in French, German, Italian and Thai. And there are subtitles in 10 languages: English, Cantonese, Complex Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Icelandic, Italian, Thai and Turkish.
Chapters are plentiful with 32 over the 102-minute running time, but the menu is a low-key affair with a still of the cover set to some subtle incidental music.
Running time: 102 minutes
Studio: Warner Home Video
Released: June 8th 2015
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (English only), Dolby Digital 5.1 (all others)
Languages: English, French, German, Italian, Thai
Subtitles: English, Cantonese, Complex Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Icelandic, Italian, Thai, Turkish
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Panavision)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Daniel Barnz
Producers: Ben Barnz, Mark Canton, Kristin Hahn and Courtney Solomon
Screenplay: Patrick Tobin
Music: Christophe Beck
Claire Bennett: Jennifer Aniston
Silvana: Adriana Barraza
Nina Collins: Anna Kendrick
Roy Collins: Sam Worthington
Bonnie: Mamie Gummer
Annette: Felicity Huffman
Leonard: William H Macy
Jason Bennett: Chris Messina
Nurse Gayle: Lucy Punch
Becky: Britt Robertson
Carol: Paula Cale
Stephanie: Ashley Crow
Arturo: Manuel Garcia-Rulfo
Tina: Camille Guaty
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.