Tribeca ’07: The Cake Eaters (review)

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You asked me to marry you, and then you took off without saying good-bye.

Three men, three women, and a whole lotta tender secrets, aching desire, and broken hearts fill up the directorial debut of actor Mary Stuart Masterson — so much so that what seems at first like a lean, spare psychic space in which much is left unspoken swells to burn white-hot. Guy Kimbrough (Jayce Bartok [The Station Agent], who also wrote the screenplay) returns home to his small upstate New York town after three years away, too late for his mother’s funeral and too late, perhaps, to save his relationship with his father (Bruce Dern: The Astronaut Farmer), younger brother (Aaron Stanford: X-Men: The Last Stand), and the woman he left behind (Miriam Shor); his father and brother are exploring all sorts of strange new emotional worlds with the women in their lives. Bartok’s script dares to tread some thin ice about what constitutes an appropriate, morally sound sexual relationship, but Masterson’s sensitive direction removes any possible objection and replaces it with a warm humanity. Standing out among the excellent performances are Stanford’s bitter loner and Kristin Stewart as a handicapped teenager desperate to live as much of life while she can.

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