In “Cake,” Why Did Claire Recline Her Car Seat All the Way Back?


Throughout Cake (2014), Claire (Jennifer Aniston) is driven to various locations by her housekeeper, Silvana (Adriana Barraza). In each car scene, Claire’s seat is fully reclined to the point she is almost lying down flat while riding in the passenger’s seat. From this position, she instructs Silvana on what routes to take, knows their present location from looking at trees, and even offers a jab or two against Orange County conservatives to uphold the film’s credentials as a black comedy.

Claire claims to ride this way because of the physical pain she endures sitting upright. To drive this claim home, there are several moments in the film where she shows discomfort sitting up. Being flat on her back is less difficult on her injuries.

Since the film takes so long to reveal the cause of her pain (a car crash), the audience goes along with the notion that her car posture is simply to ease physical pain. However, it’s fairly obvious throughout the film that a connection exists between her condition and automobile travel, making it easy to assume she reclines not just for bodily pain reasons, but because she’s unable to sit and look out the car windshield without reliving the accident that caused her trauma. This is, of course, validated towards the end of the film when we finally learn that she was injured in a car accident that also killed her son and wrecked her as a person. The reclined car seat turns into a fairly cheesy trope in the film’s final (and extremely predictable) shot when she accepts her loss and sits upright.