Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Cake Eaters

By Sati. Sunday, October 9, 2011 , , , , , ,
(86 min, 2007)
Plot: Two families are brought together by the return of one family's son -- a reunion that conjures up old ghosts and issues that must be addressed.
Director: Mary Stuart Masterson
Writer: Jayce Bartok (screenplay)
Stars: Elizabeth Ashley, Jayce Bartok and Bruce Dern

Before she dies.
“what is death
the walking away from wind
from the cool touch of a bedsheet
from the smell of yellow walls
from the studious look
of your eyes
which probe the breath
delicately arising in the deep
of lungs (...)”

- Halina Poswiatowska, "what is death"

This is the movie worth seeing for two reasons only – the character and the performance given by Kristen Stewart. She was fifteen during filming it and she already had so many courageous roles in her filmography. When I see people being in awe for that little girl from “Kick-Ass” because she shoots and swears and I hear “oh my God, she is so awesome” I'm nauseous. Stewart is one of the very few amazingly good and beautiful young actresses nowadays, there is a reason for which we have so many close ups of her face in every movie she's in.

In a small town in the countryside, Georgia Kaminski (Stewart) is a fifteen year-old girl with Friedreich's ataxia (a genetic disease that causes progressive damage to the nervous system resulting in clumsy movements, speech problems, heading to heart disease) while in a flea market selling goods with her grandmother Marg, meets the shy twenty-years old Beagle Kimbrough, who works in the cafeteria of her school and is the son of the local butcher Easy. Beagle spent the last years taking care of his ill mother while Easy and Marg have secretly been lovers for many years.

The movie is directorial debut by actress Mary Stuart Masterson and she did a big mistake at the very beginning. We see both of the families, whilst Masterson should have focused on Georgia's family only. The girl is fascinating, so is her friendly grandmother and manipulative mother. Everything else that's going on with Beagle's family is boring and cliche. Had the movie focused on Georgia not only could have Stewart develop her performance even more, most likely winning some major awards for it, but the movie would be interesting instead of being so incredibly dull. The only scenes worth seeing are the ones with Kristen in them.

Because of her disease Georgia is slowly losing control over her body. She knows she won't live long (the disease is incurable, despite various attempts made by her mother) and her current condition, being disabled and needing help all the time, going to the bathroom, going upstairs, walking on the hallway and holding on to everything in sight, is as good as it will get. So she tries to make the most of it, before she's going to die, before she's going to lose the control over her body completely. Her character is especially heartbreaking because of her mother, who uses Georgia as her art project, takes pictures of her, tries to control her life and is overprotective. On the other hand Georgia's mom is the most complicated character in the film – she takes photos of the girl and deprives her of her time, time she has so little of, but at the same time she just wants to have pictures of her beautiful daughter before she is gone and takes care of as best as she can. Georgia's grandmother is the only person who gets her and looks after her, having had a lot of fun in her time and knowing Georgia can't waste any day. All of those three characters where superbly played.

Everything else going on in the movie is dull and bland. The ending makes entire film pointless, but due to amazing work by Kristen definitely not forgettable – this is her most mature performance yet, her portrayal of the strong but disabled girl is amazing, especially the moment where she spreads her arms on Beagle's motorcycle. The girl is so brave with her choices of movies and roles, as much as I like “Twilight” films I'm not sure they realize how lucky they are to have her there.

I wish the movie focused more on complex relationship between Georgia and her mother and her art project. It is said in one scene that she is doing this to rise the awareness of the disease, but later on in the movie, when Georgia cuts off her gorgeous long hair, it's apparent it's not the only reason. The script had amazing potential and it was wasted, which a great shame because this movie doesn't deserve the strong performances you'll find in it.


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