Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Emotionally on point as are few films you'll have seen: Ofir Raul Graizer's THE CAKEMAKER

In the hands of a less gifted filmmaker, a story such as the one told in THE CAKEMAKER might defy credibility. Fortunately writer/director Ofir Raul Graizer has the ability to tell his story and tell it with such perfect attention to and belief in the emotions engendered in and by each character that not only do we buy into the tale, it becomes, by its conclusion, one of the most surprising and moving of its generation. Little wonder that, at the end, when one character looks up into the sky, for a moment we believe that these people may just have -- somehow and against great odds -- found their slice of heaven.

Mr. Graizer, shown at right, has made a movie about, of all things, love. Deep, abiding love. Love that is so strong that, as felt by our protagonist -- a quiet, remarkably passive young man named Thomas who does the baking for a little cafe in Berlin -- it leads him into an adventure and then into an entire life dedicated to that love, which he is only slowly, fully and finally beginning to understand.

The role of Thomas is played by a young German actor named Tim Kalkhof (shown below and further below), and he fills it so fully and memorably that you are not likely to forget him. Handsome, sweet and just slightly chubby, he looks quite like the mythical Cupid brought suddenly to adulthood.

Kalkhof's performance is so strikingly original -- he pulls us in via his quietude and his willingness to be led -- that only slowly do we learn bits and pieces of his history that will help fill what seems a personality almost too empty to be believed. Yet by virtue of an unerring understanding of emotional resonance -- how much to show, and when and why -- filmmaker Graizer and his star bring to life a story and a character who seems as real as he is timeless.

Thanks to his sweetness, his beautiful appearance and his evidently supreme baking skills, Thomas has attracted the eye and taste buds of an Israeli man (married and father to a young son) who come to Germany on business several times a year. The two fall into an affair that suddenly stops when Thomas no longer hears from his long-distance partner.

When he learns what has happened, Thomas' passivity turns active enough to get him to Israel, where he looks up the man's wife (played by French actress Sarah Adler, above) and slowly wends his way into her life and that of her son and her brother, Moti (Zohar Shtrauss, below, left), a fundamentalist Israeli who first resents and then tries to accept the intrusion of this odd German man.

Also on hand, later in the film, is the mother of Thomas' lover, played with such reticence and power by Sandra Sade (below) that, with very little dialog, Ms Sade manages to convey not simply immense feeling but an ability to help us understand past history without the use of the kind of clunky expositionery dialog on which most directors would have to rely. Again, Mr. Graizer manages to guide us along via the smallest yet most vital changes in emotional tone.

Nowhere is this use of visuals and emotional power more apparent than in a fully-clothed sex scene that is simultaneously about as hot as you could want and yet so full of trepidation, wonderment and surprise that you follow each moment in near breathless anticipation.

The filmmaker's theme is a vital and important one: finding your place in the world and making something of it while simultaneously helping others to do the same. This is something we don't often find in current films. And certainly not handled this well. Emotionally on the-the-mark at every moment regarding every character, this precious ability of Mr. Graizer allows a very unusual tale to live fully and take flight.

From Strand Releasing, running 105 minutes, in German, Hebrew and quite a bit of English, too -- with English subtitles as needed -- The Cakemaker opens this Friday, June 29, in New York City at the Quad Cinema and Landmark 57 West and in Los Angeles at Laemmles Royal, Town Center 5 and Playhouse 7. Over the weeks and months to come, the film will hit cities all across the country. Here in South Florida, look for it to arrive on July 13 in the Miami area at the Coral Gables Art Cinema, in Fort Lauderdale in the Classic Gateway, in Boca Raton at the Living Room Theaters, and at the Movies and Delray and Lake Worth.

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