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STUDIO: Screen Media
RUNNING TIME: 86 min
- Director’s Commentary
- Deleted Scenes
- Cast Interviews
Young girl gets sick, while families fall apart.
Kristen Stewart, Aaron Stanford, Bruce Dern, Elizabeth Ashley and Jayce Bartok
Mary Stuart Masterson makes her directorial debut with this tale of two families in a small town. Georgia (Kristen Stewart) is a young girl that’s suffering from Friedrich’s Ataxia. Georgia meets high school cafeteria worker Beagle (Aaron Stanford) and the two hit it off. Beagle has to work against the crushing despair of his family, while trying to offer hope to the slowly dying Georgia. Tragedy and heartfelt sentiment follows.
It is what it looks like.
When I first heard about the flick, I only had a mild curiosity. The way the film was being marketed, I only cared to see more of Kristen Stewart. Well, that and I wanted to see if the little blonde chick from Some Kind of Wonderful could actually direct. The result was an arthouse melodrama about a photographer taking pictures of a dying girl. Throw in a strained mother/daughter relationship to get the blue haired crowd into the picture.
Violet Kaminski (Talia Balsam) wants to help Georgia, but that’s not the way her daughter sees it. Georgia knows that she’s not long for this world, so she tries to get laid. She turns her wiles on an older white trash boy, but he doesn’t know what to make of it. Then, there’s Violet’s attempts to build her photography career off semi-nude pictures of her dying daughter. All Beagle has to deal with is the unfortunate death of his mother.
The film is handled in such a subtle way that you can easily ignore it. But, Jayce Bartok’s script is a little more fucked up than Masterson shows the world. You’ve got echoes of child abuse in the relationship between Georgia and Violet. Beagle shows his family in a filter that reflects the Southern Gothic tradition. Well, it reflects the SoGo tradition about as well as you can in the modern era.
The ensemble cast is a decent cross-section of veteran actors such as Bruce Dern and Melissa Leo. Plus, you get to see the best of the best in younger actors work through the rather awkward script. I can’t really call The Cake Eaters a good film. It’s one of those bizarre little ventures that’s going to stick in the back of my brain for some time.
The Cake Eaters comes to DVD with a rather packed special edition. You get a ton of featurettes that show how Bartok was able to take his screenplay to Masterson. There’s a ton of deleted scenes that show how the film ended up with its rather short runtime. If that wasn’t enough, you get to listen to Mary Stuart Masterson in her first director’s commentary. Masterson doesn’t try to pat herself on the back. That’s refreshing, but it doesn’t forgive the rather misdirected film.
Behind the Scenes and Cast Interviews -
behind the scenes featurettes and cast interviews shine a light on Masterson’s approach to the material. Not a lot of insight is gleamed here. You mostly get a lot of actors standing around and smiling. Actors like to work.
Deleted Scenes and Director’s Commentary – The deleted scenes don’t really have a point. They feel like forced extensions of scenes that ran too long in the main feature. The strongest supplemental material is the Director’s Commentary. Mary Stuart Masterson doesn’t try to apologize or grandstand about her first feature. She takes her lumps and explains how she went about the material. Strong stuff and well worth a listen.
Jeffrey Jones: The Olan Mills of the lower Florida area.
6.0 out of 10