Sitting in Bars with Cake (2023) 2023 / Standard-issue melodrama that still works as a sincere, well-acted tearjerker


Sitting in Bars with Cake’s best qualities and roughest qualities stem from the fact that the story is apparently based on true events. Screenwriter Audrey Shulman (who based the script on her cookbook of the same title) clearly wants to honor the details of this very personal year in her life, but the effect is a story that often lacks thematic coherence. When the cancer diagnosis is inevitably revealed, the rest of the film’s subplots just seem frivolous and underdeveloped in comparison. But there’s also a charm to having this be a story about a friendship rooted in regular, random things—suddenly interrupted by a devastating illness. The film definitely doesn’t escape the cliches of a cancer drama, but they’re deployed in a more sedate, mature way here. And if the filmmaking doesn’t do much to tell this story in a more interesting way, the performances are enough to let the emotions land when they really need to.

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