The Cakemaker @ image+nation

Israeli/German film that can best be summed up in a few words. Tender. Intimate. Depth. Silence. Beautiful. These are just a few that spring to mind. And why, you ask, a few words. Well, because the film itself features precious little dialogue. Most of what it had to say can be found in the long silences, looks and body language of the characters. When something is done well you don’t need to fill all the screentime with extraneous noise or dialogue. First time feature film director and screenwriter Ofir Raul Graizer has, like his main character Thomas, managed to make a delicious film/cake with simple ingredients. It really is all in the construction/baking.

Israeli businessman Oren (Roy Miller – Infiltration) travels from Jerusalem to Berlin often due to a work project. Once in the German city his first stop is always a small cafe. He not only enjoys the coffee and cakes, but also the young man making them. Oren and Thomas (Tim Kalkhof – appeared in an episode of television’s Homeland) become lovers despite the fact that the Israeli has a wife and son.

Thomas is worried when Oren does not return his many phone messages, so he travels to Jerusalem to find out what is going on. Once there he discovers his lover has died in a car crash. Thomas is crushed. This is not the end of it, though, as he decides to stay on in Israel to try and get close to Oren’s family.

Due to circumstance Oren’s wife Anat (Sarah Adler – Restoration, Marie Antoinette), who owns a small cafe, hires Thomas on. Initially he is just doing menial tasks like washing dishes and sweeping up. Soon though, he is baking cookies and cakes. This despite the fact that he is not kosher, which aggravates Anat’s brother in law, Motti (Zohar Shtrauss – Lebanon, Mary Magdalene).

The cafe is doing great business due to the talent of the young German baker. And Anat and Thomas are becoming closer. Very close. Thomas is a man lost and Anat and son Itai (Tamir Ben Yehuda – first film) provide him a link to the man he lost. Inevitably his lies begin to catch up to Thomas and his life unravels yet again.

Despite the long silences there is so much depth that words almost seem like they would overwhelm or even ruin the film. You get the luxury of feeling what the characters are. It is a recipe for a film that is quite moving. Within the silence the passion or feelings are so strong they become tangible to the viewer. All accomplished without lots of dialogue.

What quickly draws you in are the nuances and depth. Nothing is simple though at first glance it might seem so. Even the baking due to kosher rules becomes less than simple. The whole German-Israeli thing hangs over most of what happens. A gay man making love to a woman….because it brings him closer to the man he loved…complex. The sex scenes are not even operating on one level, but many. Not just erotic. Also demonstrate intimacy and the possible interlacing of two souls.

German actor Tim Kalkhof turns in an understated yet strong performance. It is a difficult role due to the lack of dialogue. He has to use his body and eyes to give us a window into what his character is feeling or thinking. Demands plenty of nuance. He also has great chemistry with both of his partners – Oren and Anat.

Director Graizer displays confidence and a clear vision on how he wants to tell the story he wrote. The scenes of Thomas baking are quite sensual and shot through an almost gauzy light. You see the pleasure involved allowing you to get pleasure by merely watching. Every small detail has been thought out. From the sets to the scenery to the pacing to the framing of the shots.

 

 

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