'Cake,' starring Jennifer Aniston, could have used more layers

The movie is designed as an Oscar makeover for its star, but it's all too obvious about what it's up to.

Cinelou Films/AP
Jennifer Aniston in a scene from the film, 'Cake.'

Jennifer Aniston plays a severely depressed woman dealing with chronic pain in Daniel Barnz’s “Cake,” one of those movies designed as an Oscar make-over for its star. It didn’t work in this case. Aniston was not nominated for Best Actress, perhaps because the film is so obvious about what it’s up to. 

As the pain-killer-popping Claire, covered in prosthetic scars, Aniston is playing a tough-tender type whose closest bond is with Silvana (Adriana Barraza), her Mexican housekeeper, who dutifully drives her on errands and even to Tijuana, Mexico, to score cut-rate pills. (If anybody deserved an Oscar nomination, it’s Barraza.) The scenes between these two women are more believable and finely observed than the ones between Claire and her ex-husband (Chris Messina) or between her and the husband (Sam Worthington) of a woman (Anna Kendrick) in Claire’s support group who killed herself. “Cake” could have used more layers. Grade: C (Rated R for language, substance abuse and brief sexuality.)

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