Magazine article Screen International

'The Cakemaker': Karlovy Vary Review

Magazine article Screen International

'The Cakemaker': Karlovy Vary Review

Article excerpt

Familiar ingredients give rise to an impressive drama from a first-time Israeli film-maker

Dir/scr. Ofir Raul Graizer. Israel/Germany. 2017. 104 mins.

Yearning and melancholy are baked into every frame of The Cakemaker, and, like all good pastries, this grief-infused drama makes a strong impression while working from a classic recipe. Bowing in competition at Karlovy Vary, then headed to the Jerusalem Film Festival and a likely festival circuit career, Ofir Raul Graizer’s debut feature explores the struggles of mourning from two initially contrasting, latterly intertwined perspectives: a married Israeli man’s secret Berlin-based lover, and that of his wife and the mother of his son, who owns a cafe in Jerusalem.

The Cakemaker waits, letting unspoken truths and realisations simmer for as long as possible.

Graizere, who co-directed the 2015 Cannes short La Discothèque, has also written this contemplative full-length debut, understanding that patience and care are crucial in making a familiar formula feel like its own end product, particularly when blending together oft-examined subjects such as loss and culinary catharsis. More than that, however, he laces his recognisable ingredients with grander thematic concerns. Bubbling beneath his nuanced dual character study is a rumination on traditions and the divisions they inspire, be they national, sexual or religious.

When Oren (Roy Miller) walks into the German patisserie he always visits during his business trips abroad, and into chef Thomas’ (Tim Kalkhof) life, it doesn’t take long for a shared fondness for baked goods to give rise to an affair. Graizer jumps through their abridged, clandestine romance in a matter-of-fact manner - first, they meet; next, a year later, they’re cosy and periodically cohabitating - while letting emotion ooze from their faces. They’re close and comfortable, despite Oren’s other life back home and Thomas’ clear wish for something more permanent.

A spate of unreturned voicemail messages and an awkward trip to Oren’s Berlin office later, and Thomas is bereaved. Oren has been killed in a car accident. …

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