For those of us interested in chronic pain, the movie CAKE starring Jennifer Aniston was a long overdue opportunity for a serious and meaningful creative exploration about the condition.
National Pain Report readers who have seen the movie think it fell short. They were generally happy Hollywood tried, saw a lot of truth in the film, but seem to believe it could have been much more.
We received a number of very thoughtful responses from our readers on a story we did last week promoting our survey we’ve been running and reaction from Facebook.
The criticism of the movie that we heard most from our readers (but not from movie critics around the country, which we’ll discuss later) is not every chronic pain sufferer turns into an addict.
Here is an example of opinion from Reader Kelly Dart who had some strong words about the movie:
“This is not a movie about the struggles chronic pain sufferers; it is a movie that sensationalizes the negative stereotype of the disease and the LAST thing that was needed for those with this condition.
There are bits and pieces that rang true, but unlike a fictional character, we that suffer from this incapacitating disease do not have the luxury of arranging our lives around stalking others and having our maids ‘score’ for us. Only a small percent of CP sufferers will become addicted, although many will display characteristics of being so because of pseudo-addiction stemming from under treatment of our pain.
Hired help around the house? Not with the amount of money that goes towards medical bills! Angry, bitter, isolated, depressed, GUILTY? Hell yes!!! Because of the disease causing my chronic pain? Slightly; mostly it’s because of inability to mother my four sons the way I used to because of the fear the DEA/Government/Society has instilled in my PM Doctor as far as prescribing the amount of medicine needed for me to have my pain level drop enough to physically function, because the pain is NEVER gone no matter what or how much medicine I take.
The diabetic who does not adhere to lifestyle changes is just given more insulin; we CP sufferers do everything recommended and MANDATED (urine tests) and are still told no because of what other people do with medications thar make our bodies livable. Withhold insulin increases until the patient abides by the Doctors recommendations? There would be outcry and lawsuits….”
Not all of the commentary was negative–one survey respondent said:
“This is absolutely a movie I would bring my friend and family to see so they could at least understand the day-to-day fight we face living with chronic pain.”
Generally though, the readers and people who took the survey thought it just missed a great opportunity to tell the nuanced truth about living in chronic pain.
“The directors were content to take an old mistaken stereotype (drug addiction) and make it a major plot point. Very disappointing if you ask me.”
MOVIE CRITICS NOT IMPRESSED EITHER
People who review moves for a living weren’t very impressed with the movie either, but not for the reasons the readers stated.
- The New York Times though it was “predictable”
- The New York Daily News said it was “half baked”
- The Chicago Tribune called it “routine”
- The Los Angeles Times thought it “went soft”
We will keep the survey alive for another week or so, and hope that if you see the movie, let us know what you think. (Click here to take the survey).
If you haven’t seen the movie, you’re not alone. The movie generated only $1.3 million dollars last weekend, to rate 19th among movies this weekend.
Good for Jennifer Aniston for taking the risk to do the movie. And, good for Hollywood at least trying to explore the issue.
But chronic pain is complex and shouldn’t be reduced to stereotypes, a temptation our readers apparently believe the filmmakers couldn’t resist.