I thought this movie was going to be about living with chronic pain. But I think chronic pain only plays a minor role in this film. This is a movie about loss and grief. And when that loss involves a young child, the grief is magnified tenfold. It is overwhelming, almost eclipsing the physical pain. Of course, the grief makes dealing with the chronic pain even harder.
This movie takes place only six months after her tragic loss, and initially, Jennifer Aniston’s character isn’t able to face the grief. You can tell that she hasn’t yet learned how to mask the chronic pain in public, which is something that eventually all of us learn. Her treatments and therapy only deal with the physical pain from her accident, but she is using drugs, alcohol, and anger to manage both types of pain. In the end, she’s ready to face it all.
While it may be a glimpse of what chronic pain patients go through, it doesn’t even come close to reality. I suppose part of the reason for that is this woman doesn’t have any financial problems, with the ability to pay someone to take care of her. She rarely has to rely on herself to move through each day. She doesn’t have to worry about finding or paying for a doctor or medications. She has no fear of becoming homeless. In other words, it’s a Hollywood movie that doesn’t really portray the lives of so many pain patients.
Jennifer Aniston really did a wonderful job, as did all the other characters in the movie. In fact, her housekeeper steals quite a few scenes from the main character, as does Anna Kendrick, the woman from her chronic pain group that committed suicide.
Unfortunately, movie reviewers weren’t all that kind:
The spectacle of female suffering has produced a lot of great movies; Cake is not one of them.
Manohla Dargis, New York Times.
I’m thinking that anyone who works for the New York Times doesn’t really understand suffering. I thought this was a great movie and I highly recommend it.