As an actress, Mary Stuart Masterson has specialized in movies of sad, lonely and romantically vulnerable people whose lives aren't guaranteed to have their "happy ending" by the closing credits.
And that's just the sort of movie that became her feature directing debut. The Cake Eaters is a story rife with lonely, damaged souls reaching out to one another with generally comforting results.
Guy ( Jayce Bartok, who also wrote this) is a traveling musician who has come home because his mother just died after a long, lingering illness. He finds the girl he left behind (Miriam Shor). Dad (Bruce Dern), a butcher, is in the clutches of a long-term affair with the brassy, life-affirming Marg (Elizabeth Ashley, still a force of nature). And his sad-sack brother (Aaron Stanford) is in the process of taking up with the terminally ill Georgia (Kristen Stewart, every bit as earthy and amazing as she was in Into the Wild), a teenager whose mother exploits her infirmity with nude art photo studies. Georgia is desperate to experience real love before her muscle disease takes any chance of it away.
The Kimbrough men must exorcise some family ghosts before any of them can be whole again.
A classic "film festival movie" in which nothing much happens, The Cake Eaters is marked by sharply observed performances, a terrific rural texture and a firm sense of place that helps give this gentle, leisurely film an easily digestible message that doesn't leave an aftertaste.
Screening at: Saturday, March 29, 2:15 p.m.–3:50 p.m. at Regal; Wednesday, April 2, 4:15 p.m.–6:10 p.m. at Enzian