drama

FILM REVIEW: ‘CAKE’

‘Cake’

Written by: Patrick Tobin

Directed by: Daniel Barnz

Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Sam Worthington, Anna Kendrick, Adrianna Barraza

Story: Fascinated and haunted by her suicide, Claire befriends the widowed husband of a woman from her chronic pain support group.

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Jennifer Aniston is here to let us know that she is not simply a comedic actress. From time to time this does happen: a traditionally comedic actor will take on a role that is much more dramatic, much more complex. Often it pays off, and almost just as often it doesn’t. For Aniston, she strikes gold.

‘Cake’ is not a dessert. It is a rich and savoury main course which will leave you feeling full. This is an intense and moving exploration of the way in which we can forgive and move on from tragedy in our lives. For Aniston’s character Claire, she has suffered a tragedy which has taken everything she has from her: everything but her mother figure which she finds in her hired help Silvana. The empathy that Adrianna Barraza brings to this role is mature and measured. She plays off Aniston extremely well, and between the two of them there is some sort of familial electricity. We are assured through Silvana’s presence that Claire is always going to be OK – she is always going to get by. The beauty in this is that with Aniston’s performance, we want Claire to do more than get by. We want her to thrive.

Aniston comes into this role with a sense of wisdom and intense vulnerability that you would be hard pressed to find in many other actresses. When watching ‘Cake’, it is clear that she has approached this role with both passion and caution, and not too much of either.

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The screenplay is finely put together and incredibly well paced. When watching this we have to be prepared for heaviness and deep character study. If this is not the type of movie for you, then do not watch it. Many things are explored but some are left unsaid: this is a fine quality in a script and Patrick Tobin should be commended.

One is tempted to say that ‘Cake’ is worth watching for Aniston alone, however strong supporting roles from Adriana Barraza, Sam Worthington and particularly Felicity Huffman it would feel unfair to say. Her role is small, but Huffman becomes an integral part of this story, providing a certain optimism that we could perhaps lack at times when trying to process Claire’s journey.

Mature and understated, Cake might just be one of the most emotionally intelligent films you watch this year.

Rating: 9/10

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FILM REVIEW: “PHILOMENA” (2013)

“Philomena”

Written by: Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope (adapted from the book ‘The Lost Child Of Philomena Lee’ by Martin Sixsmith)

Directed by: Stephen Frears

Starring: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan

Story: Martin Sixsmith (Coogan) is a journalist pursuing a human interest piece based on Philomena Lee, who was induced into giving her first child up to Irish nuns.

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Directed by Stephen Frears, who has earned acclaim for films such as ‘The Queen’, ‘Philomena’ is a rich, witty drama which will resonate with anybody who has a social conscience.

When you take a book like ‘The Lost Child Of Philomena Lee’ and attempt to turn it into a movie, it would be very easy to fall into a Nicholas Sparks type trap of creating something soaked in apathy and desperate for tears. This is not the case with Philomena, which draws brilliantly on the comedic talents of both Steve Coogan and Judi Dench to master the fine balance between laughing and crying.

The story is not too simple, but not complex enough to drown out the true emotion of the matter at hand. I have heard people say that this film serves to only bastardise the Catholic Church, however when one actually takes the time to watch this movie from start to finish, something different starts to permeate your mind.

Judi Dench plays the role of Philomena to absolute perfection, and one may indeed find themselves hanging on to every single word she says until the credits begin to roll. Joining on her journey to find her long lost son, who she finds was actually sold for adoption in the United States, Steve Coogan gives us Martin Sixsmith in all his glory. This totally mismatched pair have an incredible mother/son chemistry on screen and their opposing views provoke even more thought in the audience: Where Sixsmith builds increasing resentment towards the Catholic Church, Philomena possesses an impenetrable capacity to forgive and live on. It is impossible to take sides.

Frears is not fussy in his direction, instead choosing to play his part minimally and leave the rest to the script which was masterfully written by Jeff Pope and Steve Coogan. The movie plays out quickly, and doesn’t mess about with unnecessary characters or detail.

All in all, those who watch will find themselves captivated by an unavoidable “PhiloMania”: an attachment to this story which perhaps has different significance for each and every individual.

Rating: 5/5

**Photo Credit: http://www.200movies1woman.com