The Cakemaker (2018)
SHOULD I SEE IT?
Well-acted, largely well-written, an impressive debut from writer/director Ofir Raul Graizer.
Makes no judgments on its characters and allows us, as viewers, the chance to define right and wrong for ourselves in the context of a larger story.
Though the premise challenges us on some level, this is an accessible drama that blends melodrama and topical issues in an effective and engaging manner.
The actions of one character are hard to justify, no matter who much we might like them.
Rather predictable, the story can really only go in one direction and once we get there, The Cakemaker opts for a final act that could just as easily frustrate viewers as make sense to them.
The film has retained a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. So, I guess if you avoid the best reviewed movies of the year, The Cakemaker is ready for your snubbing.
There is a sense of tenderness and compassion found within Ofir Raul Graizer’s The Cakemaker, a bittersweet romantic story of love, loss, and understanding. A co-production from Germany and Israel, Graizer’s impressive debut wrestles with same-sex attraction, religious identity, nationality, and finding peace with things largely out of our control.
For a contemplative, rather quiet drama, the far-ranging reach of Graizer’s feature-film debut might leave one gasping for air. However, much like the ingredients used by Thomas (Tim Kalkhof), the baker referenced in the film’s title, everything Graizer introduces to his cinematic recipe has a chance to stand apart on its own.
Thomas is the lead baker of a small German café, specializing in cookies and cakes. When Oren (Roy Miller) drops in for the first time, he orders a few items and makes something of an instant connection with Thomas. Oren is visiting Berlin for business and will be coming to the city for a week each month, while wife Anat (Sarah Adler), also a baker, and young son Itai (Tomer Ben Yehuda) stay home in Jerusalem.
Soon, the two men are in a relationship, with Oren moving in with Thomas when he stays in Berlin. After several months of this secretive arrangement, Oren forgets his keys and a box of cookies he brings home to his family every time he returns home from work. Thomas calls his cell phone and assumes Oren is on the plane. He calls several times over the next few days with no response. After a month goes by with no response, Thomas relocates to Jerusalem and soon lands a job working at a kosher bakery, managed by Anat.
It is not a spoiler to share that Oren’s failure to respond comes from his being killed in a car accident, a realization that makes Thomas’ decisions look suspect at best. However, Thomas and Anat form a friendship through their work and Thomas’ confections not only impress her customers, they also increase her business. Though her orthodox brother Moti (Zohar Strauss) grows increasingly concerned about Thomas’ involvement, worrying her license as a kosher establishment will be taken away, Anat exclaims that she is not religious and does not wish to be.
To share much more would do The Cakemaker something of a disservice. Obviously, secrets will not and cannot remain quiet in a movie like this, but Graizer’s script and the terrific work from Adler and Kalkhof keep us engaged and wondering how all of this will work itself out. Adler’s performance is clenched and observant, while Kalkhof is wide-eyed and quiet. Together, as their friendship grows in the kitchen and Thomas becomes connected to Oren’s surviving family, emotions and realities begin a course for collision that will knock everyone out of their comfort zones.
The Cakemaker is a bit predictable, we put the pieces together of where this is going far before the characters do, but also speaks to the need to connect and have meaning in your world. By the end, we may question the decisions made by our main characters, debate the morality of those choices, but as we question, we experience something bittersweet: a story of two people trying to work around a hole in their lives, traversing similar pain, yet unable to articulate their true emotions to each other.
CAST & CREW
Starring: Tim Kalkhof, Sarah Adler, Roy Miller, Zohar Strauss, Sandra Sadeh, Tomer Ben Yahuda.
Director: Ofir Raul Graizer
Written by: Ofir Raul Graizer
Release Date: June 29, 2018