Having been so used to seeing Jennifer Aniston play the cutesy rom-com, girl-next-door for the last 20 years, it is no wonder her portrayal of drug-addled, suicidal “bitch” Claire in Cake has got the critics talking. Despite being a change in direction for the underrated actress, it is not difficult to see why the indie film was shunned from Oscar nominations.
In the opening scenes, director Daniel Barnz successfully confronts the harrowing subject of depression through Aniston’s grief stricken, dark comedic delivery. After the suicide of her support group counsellor, Nina, Claire is left plagued with warped hallucinations.
No sooner than we begin to witness this film’s integrity, is it abruptly counteracted by Anna Kendrick’s disconcerting and clichéd performance as Nina’s ‘ghost’. This twist in the plot is poorly executed and weakens Kendrick’s other interactions.
Amid her angered outbursts and an uneasy relationship with her carer/maid Silvana, Claire forms an unlikely friendship with Nina’s widower husband. Her questionable relationship with Roy, played by Avatar star Sam Worthington, not only lacks sincerity but remains anticlimactic.
In an aim to keep its viewers in suspense, Claire’s pallid complexion and faded scars remain an unanswered riddle until the final act. When her dark past is eventually revealed through a series of quick flashbacks and moments of self-forgiveness, it is hard to feel any empathy.
Despite Aniston presenting a solid and evocative performance, the half-baked script sees her strong character depiction fall short.