Sitting in Bars with Cake
Sitting in Bars with Cake is based on a true story following the lives of best friends Jane (Yara Shahidi) and Corinne (Odessa Azion) as they go “cakebarring” across Los Angeles – bringing cake into bars to experiment with flavors and meet new people. However, their little adventure faces several setbacks when Corinne is diagnosed with cancer. The two navigate life in their twenties, figuring themselves out and powering through the weight of the illness. On paper, Sitting in Bars with Cake can read as something fun and quirky for two best friends to embark on, eventually becoming an emotional hook to their relationship. However, the execution is messy and falls flat.
Fast pacing tries to pack as much learning as it can into its two-hour runtime. There’s the question of life having a time limit and what one should do with it: waste it trying to heal and extend the deadline, or live what little time is left, as fulfilled as one can be? The feature also explores friendship and family dynamics, and how being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness can change them: friends become family, family and friends start sharing unlikely bonds, and strain can occur when roles change from friend to caregiver. Cakebarring takes a backseat to dealing with Corrine’s illness, and after the first quarter almost entirely disappears from the plot. It only crops up again in the last 30 minutes as some form of emotional link between Jane and Corinne.
As the script doesn’t do a good job of endearing the audience to the activity, with only montages and time skips, it’s hard to form any deeper connection, let alone for it to be the emotional core of the duo’s friendship. Yes, cakebarring provides the symbolism for how their relationship is structured – it’s a context for Corinne’s desire for Jane step out of her introverted shell and to pursue her passion for baking, and it essentially gives both of them an outlet – but because of how little time is spent on creating actual moments in these scenes, something so significant easily fades into the background, almost making the film’s title redundant.
Still, Sitting in Bars with Cake does find a way to adhere to the fashion of cakebarring, with lots of sexual innuendos hidden underneath baking puns. Circles and symmetry are an important part of the visual presentation, representative of a neverending friendship and being two parts of one whole. The colourful lights at the bars complement the pastel vibrancy of the Jane’s cakes and contrast with Corinne’s paling body and whitewashed scenes at the hospital; it’s a very visually reliant film in the way that it leans into the baking art aesthetic. However, these pretty things don’t mean much when the writing is weak, takes shortcuts and overall under-delivers on what should have been a heartwarming tale of a strong and persistent friendship.
Sitting in Bars with Cake is released on Prime Video on 8th September 2023.
Watch the trailer for Sitting in Bars with Cake here: