Jennifer Aniston’s Cake is Too Rich to be Relevant

The film features a wealthy Angeleno when the majority of chronic pain sufferers are low-income

Describing Mary Tyler Moore's Oscar-nominated performance as a grief-stricken mother in Ordinary People, film critic Pauline Kael wrote “Moore … seems to be doing penance for having given audiences a good time” as a beloved television comedienne by choosing film roles that require “performances locked in dreariness.” It'd be easy, but not very fair, to level a similar criticism at Jennifer Aniston, another actress who came to fame playing a beautiful young woman better known for her hairstyle than her ability to confront adversity.

Claire, Aniston's character in Cake, copes with her chronic pain with pills and wine and little else, openly, hostilely refusing all efforts to help her achieve real recovery from her largely unspecified injuries—apparently because, for reasons also largely unspecified, she doesn't think she deserves it. Instead, Claire’s dangerously enamored with suicide and possibly in the middle of a psychotic break. It's the kind of role that seems ripe for onscreen masochistic martyrdom, but had Aniston, who also acted as executive producer for the film, truly wanted to make us watch her suffer she might've insisted that her character be poor, as well.

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