No Oscar nod, but there is ‘Cake’ for Aniston

23 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Why ‘Cake’ was the wrong movie for Jennifer Aniston.

Opens Friday Jan. 23 at GTA theatres. 92 minutes. 14A The Oscars got a lot of things wrong with their recent nominations — but they can’t be faulted for snubbing Jennifer Aniston, who some had thought might get a Best Actress nod for Cake. She may be right for the role of a women badly coping with chronic pain and related life issues — her tired, scarred and sad face is a far cry from her usual perk and glam — but the movie is all wrong for her.

Asked to share her feelings about the recent suicide of a group member, a mom named Nina (Anna Kendrick) who threw herself off a highway overpass into heavy traffic, Claire sneers at the resulting chaos: “Way to go, Nina!” Such flippancy results in her being booted from the group, but her bad attitude is due to pain, both physical and emotional. For a reason not made immediately clear, but which will be teased out far past the point of obviousness, Claire is herself not far from the point of making a final desperate act. She tries to numb herself with the prescription pain meds she’s now hooked on, to the point that she browbeats her Mexican housekeeper Silvana (Adriana Barraza, a revelation), the one person who really cares for her, to go with her on a day trip to Mexico to illicitly stock up on drugs. Most of the other people in Claire’s life have been driven away by her perpetually sour attitude, including her husband (Chris Messina), an obviously decent man who just couldn’t take her any longer. And a certain fatalistic curiosity will lead her to track down Nina’s widowed husband Roy (Sam Worthington), who is now struggling to raise a young son on his own.

More than this you don’t need to know going in, but with Aniston so game for a tough role — and so obviously hungry for Oscar attention — it’s too bad director Daniel Barnz (Beastly) and screenwriter Patrick Tobin couldn’t have given her something better to work with. One minute, the film reaches for scathing black comedy, the kind where the protagonist asks a grieving relative at a gravesite where the granite for the tombstone was obtained, because its exactly what’s needed for a planned kitchen reno.

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