Mary Stuart Masterson’s directorial debut, ‘The Cake Eaters,’ misplaces the third act. Possibly Masterson wanted to avoid the Hollywood endings her successful acting career was built upon, or maybe the independent film ran over budget. The true reason for the wonder credits (those that roll leaving the viewer to wonder where the rest of the film went) probably stems from sloppy writing.
The speculative tragedy is forecasting not only how this film would have ended, but how it would have been received differently. Kristen Stewart gives a phenomenal, career changing performance as ‘Georgia,’ a girl with the neurological disease Friedreich’s ataxia. In one of the story fragments, 15-year-old Georgia decides to run off with Beagle (Aaron Stanford) ‘- a sweet cafeteria worker at her school. The story is frosted with conflict that the film never pursues.
Anthology films, or films with multiple plots, do tend to leave some plots open to guesswork, but none of Masterson’s plots have an ending. As a result, the film fails to make an impact thematically, which is usually the intention of an ensemble movie. It starts as a coming-of-age film about a dying girl and her search for love, and refuses to give us any semblance of closure.
To top the growing criticism of the unfulfilling journey this film provides, the title is never explained. ‘The Cake Eaters’ might derive from the saying that people like to have their cake and eat it too. Yet, the title does not seem related to any of the fragments of story presented in Masterson’s film. However it does fit into the running theme: confusion and dissatisfaction.