Cake

A necessarily dreary drama starring Jennifer Aniston as Claire Bennett, a woman suffering from chronic pain, which is both serious in nature and perhaps tied to her ongoing grief at the earlier, offscreen death of her only child. Aniston – who probably ought to get more roles like this, unless she’s just deliberately ignoring them – is impressive, simultaneously making you dislike her character through some of her words and deeds, but also reminding you through her physical performance of Claire’s extreme discomfort, which goes some way to explaining the way she treats others, most notably her maid and helper Silvana (Adriana Barraza). That central performance is the reason for recommending it; but otherwise it’s a meandering affair that throws a number of other figures into the mix who mostly fall flat, perhaps due to a lack of screen time, perhaps for other reasons. Sam Worthington, for example, is blank and dull as a kind of beefcake silver lining dude; Anna Kendrick is too chipper and upbeat for her role as a former member of Claire’s chronic pain support group; and William H Macy gets a mere minute to convince as Claire’s ex-husband, and understandably fails. (**)