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Cake Blu-ray review

CakeTHNDirector: Daniel Barnz

Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Adriana Barraza, Sam Worthington, Anna Kendrick, Felicity Huffman, William H Macy

Certificate: 15

Running Time: 102 minutes

Special Features: The Many Layers of Cake: Learning to Live Again / The Icing on the Cake: Meet the Cast

Claire is a bitter and angry depressive who has succumbed to her pain; heavily reliant on drugs and booze she medicates to keep herself numb which is hindering her rehabilitation and life progression in the process. Her only supporter is Silvana, her heavily put-upon housekeeper. After the death of a woman in her pain support group, Claire finds herself drawn to the family of the deceased and finds herself re-evaluating her perspective on life.

It’s unfortunate that Aniston didn’t receive an Oscar nomination for her turn in Cake as it really does tick all of the usual academy criteria. Bodily disfigurement that makes it hard to recognise her, check, character having to overcome hardships, check, moments of gut-wrenching sadness, check. Still, Cake will definitely turn heads and will hopefully open up the gateway for more grounded projects to be sent her way. Aniston’s portrayal of Claire truly is a powerhouse, career-defining performance and is so far removed from Rachel Green you’ll forget the two character’s share a host.

It isn’t just Aniston who shines though; Barraza, who plays Silvana, almost steals the movie from Aniston, giving the film a much needed warmth. Her family don’t approve of her continuing to work for a lady who is known for being demanding and mean, but yet Silvana stays. Some of the scenes between the two women are genuinely touching. Claire’s interactions with Silvana show that she hasn’t always been a bitch and that Silvana might have a very good reason for sticking around.

The key theme within Cake is of course pain, both physically and psychologically. Aniston gives a sterling job at showcasing the effects of the relatively unknown condition. Her nuanced movements coupled with winces and gasps convince the viewer that Claire is in unbelievable agony. But she also manages to show the full range of emotions linked with surviving a tragic accident. Likewise Worthington gives an honest representation of a man trying to cope with raising a son after his wife has taken her own life. His character Roy is more angry at the situation he has been put in, than grief stricken, and becomes a kindred spirit for Claire.

Usually films set in the state of California either focus on all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and the rich, or take place in the seedy underbelly and ghettos. Cake however presents a side of California that isn’t often seen on screen, the quieter suburban side of life and the headaches which are the roads and traffic.

More bitter-sweet than some of its counterparts, Cake is a tale that has been told in many guises before. Thankfully the film manages to side step some of the usual cliches, occasionally zigging where you expect a zag, though a few more zigs might have been nice. Don’t forget to pack your tissues this is a whirlwind rollercoaster of emotions.

Cake is out on Blu-ray and DVD from June 29th, pick up your copy here.

Kat Hughes is a UK born film critic and interviewer who has a passion for horror films. An editor for THN, Kat is also a Rotten Tomatoes Approved Critic. She has bylines with Ghouls Magazine, Arrow Video, Film Stories, Certified Forgotten and FILMHOUNDS and has had essays published in home entertainment releases by Vinegar Syndrome and Second Sight. When not writing about horror, Kat hosts micro podcast Movies with Mummy along with her five-year-old daughter.

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