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Cake

Forgiveness is a bitter pill to swallow.

Poster art for CakeClaire Bennett (Jennifer Aniston) is a Los Angeles attorney still on leave from her job more than a year after the car crash that left her with scars all over her body and chronic pain that keeps her awake at night. Claire's bottled anger has turned so toxic that her therapy group kicks her out, and her physical therapist is about to bail on her too. Claire finds relief only in casual sex and prescription painkillers. Occasional glimpses of the person Claire used to be – a cheerful, accomplished professional with a good marriage – only highlight what a wreck she's become.

Aniston's comic chops serve her remarkably well in this breakout dramatic role. Claire's trenchant perspective sets the tone – she's a bitch, but a funny one – and director Daniel Barnz plays many scenes for laughs even as the story's tragic dimensions grow increasingly evident. Cake might follow the formulaic arc of catharsis and healing a little too closely, but its careful balance of humour and anguish, its sense of mirthless drollery, isn't something you see every day. Whether or not Aniston ever gets another role like this one, I have a hard time imagining anyone else in it – and that's the sign of a genuine actor.

– J.R. Jones, The Chicago Reader

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