This was director Ofir Raul Graizer's first feature film, but its excellence mimics those of the most experienced filmmakers.
"The Cakemaker" is director Ofir Raul Graizer's first feature film. And with the delicate skill of a pro, he has created a tour de force.
In this bittersweet love story, a Berlin baker named Thomas (Tim Kalkhof) falls in love with Oren (Roy Miller), an Israeli businessman. But there's a huge catch. Oren is married to Anat (Sarah Adler) and has a young son, both of whom live in Jerusalem.
When Thomas becomes brokenhearted not heard from Thomas in three months, he discovers that he died in a car crash. Wanting to be near those closest to Oren, Thomas moves to Jerusalem. He soon locates Anat, who owns a cafe and seeks employment at her establishment. She hires him and over time, they become close friends. But in bits and pieces, Anat unearths clues to Thomas' real reason for leaving Berlin.
Anat eventually sheds light on what happened just before Oren's untimely death. It leaves Thomas reeling and he returns to Germany. But Anat's feelings for Thomas provoke her to act in a manner which is totally unexpected. We're left hanging and tearful.
Graizer employs delicious and meticulous attention to detail in this exceptional, emotionally-charged film. His camerawork is quietly dazzling, peppered with lingering, extreme close-ups. They serve to see into his character's emotions, wordlessly. Our senses are masterfully tickled by Thomas' stunning culinary skills, which are visually tantalizing. He makes baking look and feel sexy. Graizer also scripted this wonderful film with such empathy and clarity, one almost wonders if the story might have been his own.
His cast is phenomenal, but it's Kalkhof who grabs so hungrily at our heartstrings. He comes off as such a kind and gentle soul, a man of few words whose eyes speak volumes. The pleasure he takes in that which he creates, becomes ours. The range of emotions he displays is vast and pure perfection. His is one powerful performance.
There are many things going on in "The Cakemaker" that enhance the central story. The very idea that a German who moves to Israel and works in a Kosher restaurant initially doesn't set well with Anat's family. But once they get to know Thomas, he becomes one of them, loved by them. That acceptance sparks hope in these dark times, and it's a breath of very fresh air.
"The Cakemaker" was screened at the Jewish Film Festival (March 6th through 17th). It was also Israel's official submission for "Best Foreign Language Film at this year's Academy Awards.