The Cake Eaters (2007)
Rated – R
Directed by Mary Stuart Masterson
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Aaron Stanford, Bruce Dern, Elizabeth Ashley
Here is a very small film about people going through a difficult time in their lives whose stories are intertwined with one another. No, not like in the sense of Crash or Magnolia… but more like a Royal Tenenbaums split into two families.
Kristen Stewart plays a high school student, Georgia, who has a degenerative muscular disease that causes her to be extremely fragile when she moves and causes her to slur her words when she talks. She meets a kid, Beagle (Stanford) who immediately share a liking to. Even though Georgia is a few years younger than Beagle, she’s very forward about her intention with him… to have sex. Beagle is who she chooses, not because she’s in love with him but maybe because he’s a nice guy who isn’t bothered by her disability. Or maybe because she thinks she senses his vulnerability to get what she wants.
But because Beagle is such a good guy, he’s really unsure about the whole situation. The past few years have been really rough on him. His mom recently died from cancer, which he cared for her for three years and was besides her when she passed, not his father, Easy. His brother, Guy (Jayce Bartok), has just returned from New York a month after the funeral. And later on Beagle finds out that his father has been having an affair with Marge Ashley), Georgia’s grandmother, for years. Beagle is enraged at the two members that is left of his family.
There are dilemmas after dilemmas in this movie that never strays from its serious tone. Although it’s morally wrong to take advantage of a disabled girl sexually, she’s craving for it since she knows she doesn’t have much time left. What does Beagle do? And for the hidden relationship between Easy and Marge, Easy is guilted by Beagle’s disappointment. Should he end things with Marge to concentrate on his two boys, or re-marry? But is it too soon?
Guy has the lesser third story between Stephanie (Miriam Shor), a girl he proposed to but then soon after left for New York without even saying good by. And he’s back three years later, can they work things out?
The Cake Eaters is a very slow-moving film that is particular with details and the setup of each characters’ conflict. Unfortunately there is no pay-off and the conclusion keeps up with the bland style that the rest of the movie falls into. If there’s one bright point, Aaron Stanford was a delightful surprise playing Beagle. He was the center point of all of the storylines and held his ground firmly, juggling an array of emotion from one situation to another. I’ve only seen him in the X-Men movies as Pyro, but here without being hidden from special effects, he really showed the talent he has.
As for Kristen Stewart, her performance was believable and quite different from her previous roles. I applaud her courage to take on as a disabled girl, and the way she never over-did anything yet brought out sympathy from the viewer is more of a reason I’m leaning towards believing that she is a serious actress (though the Twilight series will throw her back to questioning).
Overall, the film is short and sweet but unfortunately forgetable.