Day fifty-four: Cake (May, 2)

Cake, finally!!!

Today, I reached a 11am screening (my favorite) of Cake, the hyped movie starring Jennifer Aniston in a performance considered suited to the Oscars, according to many. The nominations weren't what was expected at first (a best actress nomination for the SAG's, for The Golden Globe and another two minor awards). Most comments that I saw about it went around this kind of failure. As if an award could define a performance or the quality of a movie. What is a nonsense, actually.  

But the beginning. At the first scenes of Cake, I was in fact annoyed. Aniston's character, Claire, is in pain. And it is so raw that she carries it in every of her moves, in the many scars in her body. It was so heavy handed (by both actress and director, I think) that when I first see her at the movie I flinched. For real. I had a physical reaction, and I feared for the rest of the film (And it is difficult to admit, because I'm really rooting  for her and her career).

Claire is not a beloved character that claims our sympathy and pity. It is the opposite: she wants us to go away and leave her alone, as anyone else around her. She treats the viewer in no way differently; we are equal to the other characters, and for me that is the masterful idea in this film. I felt a pretty hard repulse at first. But, scene by scene, this scenario changed. People around her are  understanding (except her support group, ironically), but not patronizing. So, very slowly, we too begin to care about her, and see what is really happening there. 

The secondary characters are so well represented, out of the usual cliches, that we stay with them around Claire, trying to be by her side despite her very convincing strategy of withdraw herself from everything in the world, but her pain.

There's not a single drop of pity or sentimentalism in this film. For me, that shows a great respect for those that go through such pain as the one experienced by Claire. We got to meet her in a moment of her life that she is able only to live her pain. 

It is a true hell, and she has three alternatives: continue to live like that, go out of it (how?), or terminate the hell by ending her life. We know what she wants from the beginning, but the journey for the character to realize it is what we see through the movie's 102 minutes. 

Yesterday, I listened to a The Cure's song in the car's stereo, and it came to my mind while I was witnessing Claire's attempt to go through her pain. Jumping Someone Else's Train: Claire does exactly that in order to get some answers, and by going through another one's way of dealing with a pain so big that became one's entirely hellish world, she can find out what is that she really wants. 

It wasn't until a scene almost at the end that I realized how Claire had finally grew on me. My heart was a tight knot in my chest, my eyes welled, and that way I got through the rest of the movie, forgetting the heavy acting and direction, not thinking in anything else but her and what she was going through. 

Because in everyday or extreme situations in life we have the same options presented to Claire in Cake: stay faithful to the pain forever (not a option, really); give up life entirely, or deal with that living hell, for good or slowly, whatever. But getting up in your seat and looking life in the eyes - not hiding in our ongoing pain. As another movies, this one goes beyond its plot to reach many others aspects of life - and that's why cinema is so fundamental. 

One of these aspects is how we constantly try to avoid our pain, eluding the very possibility of happiness (whatever that means). But we can go with Claire also in this, and try to at last look with clear eyes at every instant of our incredibly painful (and yet amazing) lives. 

Cake. Directed by Daniel Barnz. With: Jennifer Aniston, Anna Kendrick,
Adriana Barraza 
(as the amazing Silvana), Sam Worthington. Writer:
Patrick Tobin. US, 2014, 102 min., Dolby Digital, Color (Cinema).

PS: Cake wasn't at the 2015 Oscars, but one of its main subjects made two surprising cameos in the awards show. First was producer Dana Perry calling attention, in her acceptance speech, to why we should talk about suicide "out loud", dedicating her Best Documentary Short award to her son. Second, there was the more highlighted Graham Moore's speech when accepting the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game: "I tried to commit suicide at 16 and now I'm standing here. I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she doesn't fit in anywhere. You do. Stay weird. Stay different, and then when it's your turn and you are standing on this stage please pass the same message along". Why someone has the strong wish to terminate his/her own life is not the same, but the feeling of getting no other living alternatives is absolute in that moment... until, fortunately, it is not anymore. But many tragically aren't able to reach this realization. 

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