Film Review: The Cake Eaters

The Cake Eaters is a strange film, and if I’m honest I only really bothered to watch it because it has Bruce Dern and Kristen Stewart in it. Dern, like his daughter Laura, is acting royalty and I will openly admit that I have a soft spot for the acting abilities of Stewart, even though I have never watched a Twilight film.

Because I was going into this film based more upon acting reputation than plot, I didn’t actually have any idea what it was about, I was coming at it completely fresh, without prejudice, and what I found was a charmingly simply and yet somehow stale story about the interconnecting relationship and emotions of two families.

And it’s their woven relationship that created my first issue,  it feels just a little too designed, too convenient. The kind of tale that if recounted out loud would be prefixed with the phrase “honestly, you couldn’t make it up…” and that was annoying, because the individual pieces are all interesting enough to not require such interlinking.

Kristen Stewart - The Cake Eaters

Once you’ve taken a step away from the plot, the first and most obvious thing about The Cake Eaters is the performance of Kristen Stewart. She is playing Georgia who suffers from Friedreich’s Ataxia, and thus is shown to walk and talk, as they even describe it in the film, like she is drunk. The problem is though, I have never heard of the illness and thus, have no way of knowing if the portrayal by Stewart is accurate. This meant that disease became a distraction and more than that, it reached a point where it actually felt unnecessary. The way the disease is slotted into the story never fully expanded, and thus, doesn’t really serve to add anything narratively to the story.

Turning to Bruce Dern, he never looks like he was being troubled, he doesn’t look like he’s really trying, or having to put that much effort in. But annoyingly, the individualism of his voice meant I kept seeing him purely as the old, unsure character he played in Nebraska, and not the younger and more sprightly character he is, which therefore, subconsciously undermined the power and responsibility of his character.

Bruce Dern (Nebraska) - The Cake Eaters

While the main characters never seemed to provide the punch they could have, even worse is the the pacing. It’s a repetitive criticism of a lot of films, but sadly The Cake Eaters just sticks to a single gear and felt drawn out and slow as a result. It never feels stationary, but it never felt like it really wanted to move on. It just wallows around, a series of basic events that lack the true emotion then should convey because the speed never changes. It never quite managed to get under my skin, and I think this was because it never felt quite sure enough in itself to try. As a film it honestly felt introverted and shy.

The Cake Eaters is a nice and pleasant but ultimately, unsustaining and empty. Seeming to serve no purpose or convey anything more than nothing. The main performances are good but distracting and slightly untrustworthy, while the supporting characters seemingly hang limp but acceptably alongside them. You never really connect with them and aside from Stewart, based purely on her illness, never really warm or like them either.

It’s the kind of film that you forget quickly, becoming yesterdays news and just another title in a long line. I don’t hate it, I didn’t enjoy it and I was monotonously entertained in places. I can’t recommended it and I certainly wouldn’t bother watching it again. As a film, I’ve gone away from it, uninterested and simply, sadly, able to do nothing more than put another tick on the films’ of Kirsten Stewart I’ve now seen.

I’m still not watching the Twilight Saga though!

5 out of 10 stars (5 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

Comments are closed.