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Daniel Barnz
Jennifer Aniston, Adriana Barraza, William H. Macy, Felicity Huffman, Anna Kendrick, Sam Worthington
Writing Credits:
Patrick Tobin

Forgiveness is a bitter pill to swallow.

Claire becomes fascinated by the suicide of a woman in her chronic pain support group while grappling with her own, very raw personal tragedy.

Box Office:
$7 million.
Opening Weekend
$916,179 on 482 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 102 min.
Price: $39.98
Release Date: 4/21/2015
• “The Many Layers of Cake: :Learning to Live Again” Featurette
• “The Icing on the Cake: Meet the Cast” Featurette
• Trailer and Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Cake [Blu-Ray] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 27, 2015)

With 2014’s Cake, Jennifer Aniston leaves behind her light comedy roots and goes for something more serious. Claire Bennett (Aniston) suffers from chronic pain due to a car accident that also killed her young son. She attends support group sessions related to this as well as physical therapy – and she imbibes plenty of drugs to deal with the discomfort.

Another support group member named Nina (Anna Kendrick) recently killed herself, and group leader Annette (Felicity Huffman) tries to get the others past this tragedy. The cynical, acerbic Claire resists these exercises, though, and alienates herself from the others.

Claire finds herself oddly preoccupied with Nina’s death, though. She befriends Nina’s husband Roy (Sam Worthington) and also gets to know Nina’s son Casey (Evan O’Toole). We follow these relationships and how they affect Claire.

Ever since Friends concluded in 2004, Aniston has been by far the most notable cast member, though I never felt sure how much of that came from her post-TV work. For years, Aniston seemed more like a celebrity than a successful actor, as her romantic life appeared to get her more attention than her movies.

I think that’s changed some over the last few years, and Cake probably helps distance Aniston from her tabloid and TV past. While the movie didn’t find much of an audience, it earned Aniston praise along with Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations.

Aniston didn’t get the nod from Oscar, and I can’t figure out why. No disrespect to the women who received Best Actress nominations for 2014, of course, but Aniston delivers a pretty terrific performance in Cake and she should’ve found herself up for an Academy Award.

On the surface, it’d be easy to discount Aniston’s work her as cheap “Oscar-bait”. After all, there’s little the Academy loves more than beautiful people who “ugly up” themselves – see Charlize Theron in Monster, for instance. Claire’s constant pain prompts Aniston to go through a physical transformation as well, so Cake felt like her overt stab at awards glory.

Now that I’ve seen the movie, I need to lose my cynical attitude, as Aniston fully inhabits the role in a manner that lacks self-consciousness or showiness. She doesn’t show off to prove to us she can Act with a Capital A. Instead, Aniston makes Claire a flawed but believable character who always seems wholly realistic.

Unfortunately, the movie itself only occasionally supports Aniston, as it digs into more clichés than I’d like. At its best, Cake gives us good insights into the areas of physical and emotional pain, and it can prove involving at those times.

However, Cake enters trite territory a little too much of the time, and it lacks focus. While Claire remains at the center, the story can’t decide which relationship it wants to spotlight. The situation with Roy and Casey opens her up the most, but we also see a lot of Claire’s interactions with her loyal housekeeper Silvana (Adriana Barraza).

Cake probably would’ve worked better if it’d chosen one of those set-ups and not both, as they stretch the emotional growth too thin. I prefer the Silvana side of things; like the rest of the movie, it tends toward cliché, but I find the interaction between Claire and Silvana to feel more honest and less contrived.

Even at its worst, Cake keeps us with it, and Aniston ensures we enjoy it despite its flaws. The film lacks consistency and occasionally enters TV movie territory, but it provides enough positives to make it worthwhile.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus D

Cake appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. I felt pleased with this solid visual presentation.

Sharpness seemed strong. Only a smidgen of softness ever occurred, as the majority of the flick came across as concise and well-defined. I saw no signs of jaggies or shimmering, and edge haloes stayed absent. Print flaws also didn’t become a distraction, as the image stayed clean.

In terms of palette, Cake favored an amber tint. Some greens, blues and oranges also materialized, but the amber dominated. Within those choices, the tones looked fine. Blacks appeared dark and tight, and shadows were mostly smooth; a few interiors were a little opaque, but not to a significant degree. Ultimately this ended up as a nice transfer.

For a character movie, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio of Cake demonstrated decent range. As expected, the soundscape stayed fairly low-key, though a few scenes – like those in water or on freeways – added a bit of life. When appropriate, the material spread to the side and back speakers. These moments remained relatively rare, though, so expect a pretty laid-back soundfield.

Audio quality worked fine. Speech sounded natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music seemed rich and full, and effects offered clear, accurate material. Again, the film’s scope meant the mix lacked much pizzazz, but it suited the story.

Only minor extras appear here. The Icing on the Cake: Meet the Cast runs three minutes, 28 seconds and offers info from director Daniel Barnz, producers Mark Canton, Kristin Hahn, Courtney Solomon and Ben Barnz, and actors Jennifer Aniston, Sam Worthington, Anna Kendrick and Felicity Huffman. “Icing” looks at cast, characters and performances. It’s mostly a puff piece that exists to praise Aniston.

The Many Layers of Cake: Learning to Live Again goes for three minutes, 33 seconds and features Aniston, Daniel Barnz, Hahn and stunt coordinator Stacy Courtney. We get a few notes about the challenges that come with chronic pain, but mostly “Layers” adds more plaudits for Aniston. It’s more useful than “Icing” but not by much, as it’s another promotional featurette.

The disc opens with ads for Wild, Black or White, and She’s Funny That Way. Sneak Peek adds a promo for Before I Go to Sleep, and we also find the trailer for Cake.

When Cake succeeds, it does so largely via a strong lead performance from Jennifer Aniston. The rest of the movie fares less well, as it mixes too many ups and downs to satisfy on a consistent basis. The Blu-ray offers solid visuals and fairly good audio but skimps on bonus materials. While I don’t think this becomes a great film, it works enough of the time to merit a viewing.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 2
2 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

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