Aniston is fantastic in ‘Cake’

By Jacob Pierce | @JacobPierce1_DE | Daily Egyptian

Every Oscar season, entertainment critics and journalist alike discuss all of the actors or movies the award show looks over. The Oscars have a huge history of snubbing some of the best creative endeavors.

Alfred Hitchcock famously never won an Oscar, despite being considered one of the greatest directors ever. Fred Astaire, from “Singin’ in the Rain,” was only nominated once in his entire career and “Wizard of Oz” was never nominated. Jennifer Aniston is just one of the many snubbed of 2014 for her performance in “Cake” (Rated R; 92 min).

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“Cake” is a drama directed by Daniel Barnz and starring Jennifer Aniston, Anna Kendrick, Sam Worthington and Felicity Huffman.

Pain. Claire Bennett, played by Aniston, lives a life of pain. Just moving around causes her unbearable misery. All of her anguish has caused Bennett to become a shrew of a woman, lashing out at any chance given with anger and sarcasm.

She is kicked out of her chronic pain support group after making comments about a member committing suicide. Bennett takes the rejection as a sign and attempts to turn her life around, even though life tries to throw every obstacle it can in her way.

It is hard to have an expectation for a film you barely knew existed. In true indie movie fashion, it seemed like the advertisement budget was zero. The only publicity “Cake” received stemmed from the hype Aniston’s performance was getting. All of her praise was well deserved, Bennett is the best role she has ever played.

Aniston turns what could easily be an uneven, generic indie film in the vein of “Wish I Was Here,” into an Oscar snub. Her acting ability seems to go from zero to 100 in “Cake” when compared to some of her other films such as “We Are The Millers” and “The Bounty Hunter.”

Aniston represents all of the emotional and physical pain the character feels in the most human way possible. “Cake” does not romanticize depression like the film industry has for years. Her illness is ugly and hard to watch. Yet, she is also a character with underlying hope. She wants to be happy. And while the script never has Bennett blatantly express the dueling sides, Aniston makes up for it by effortlessly portraying both a mad woman and a broken individual.

While the movie has Aniston’s career high performance on its side, Barnz and the crew still manage to ruin a lot of the movie by underutilizing talented actors. The actors who are put on display have the charisma which is that of a cardboard cutout. Poorly executed plot lines force the film to suffer.

One of the best examples of both of these problems are apparent for Kendrick. She is a terrific actress in her own right. A former Oscar nominee, Kendrick is given what could have been one of the most interesting roles in the movie and it goes absolutely nowhere.

Kendrick plays the ghost of the woman from Aniston’s support group who committed suicide. She haunts Bennett at various points in the film, trying to convince her to commit suicide. It is never revealed whether Kendrick actually is a ghost or just a representation of Bennett’s psyche. It does not matter; she only appears about four times, and each instance feels like someone is trying to jam a square peg into a round hole.

While it may seem like beating a dead horse at this point, Worthington delivers a stale performance. He plays the husband of Kendrick’s character, a man dealing with anger and depression, though neither of said emotions are seen onscreen. It would have been cheaper to just dress up a block of wood in human clothing pay the high salary of the “Avatar” actor.

His line reading is laughable at best, spouting dialogue equally ridiculous as corny. The character should be easy to empathize with, but you just end up not caring at all.

It is easy to see why Aniston failed to receive a nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role. The movie barely functions. While you will cry at certain scenes in the movie, you will also laugh at scenes that are not meant to be funny. The film reaches average heights. Unfortunately for Aniston, “Cake” will easily be forgotten.

Stars: 3 out of 5.

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