FILM REVIEW: MQFF The Cakemaker
There is a lot of room for Ofir Raul Graizer’s The Cakemaker to be confusing, as it deals with grief and sexuality with unexpected openness. A patient audience will be rewarded with a story lead by a queer character whose tensions go far beyond their sexuality.
The film opens with Thomas (Tim Kalkhof), quietly and expertly working in a Berlin café – you guessed it – making cakes. Enter Oren (Roy Miller), an Israeli businessman who takes a super quick liking to Thomas’ cakes, even stockpiling biscuits for his wife and young son back home. After what feels like no time at all, Thomas and Oren begin having an affair, lasting a year. After Oren stops returning his calls, Thomas discovers that he has been killed in a car accident. This is where the film really kicks off.
Thomas heads to his now deceased lover’s home, Jerusalem. He begins work in a local café, owned by Oren’s surviving wife, Anat (Sarah Adler). Just like her late husband, Anat takes a liking to Thomas’ cakes and begins a sexual relationship with him. All the while unaware of his affair with Oren.
Kalkhof does a great job of contrasting Thomas’ general weariness with his absolute command during baking scenes. Watching the cake maker in action makes the speed of his initial courtship with Oren believable. Despite any substantive dialogue, one realises as the film progresses that to fall in love with Thomas’ cakes (as Oren and Anat do) is to find a way to connect with an otherwise guarded character.
While Thomas is a timid, lone baker, Anat is a self-assured, community-oriented café owner; Anat wants to run her café according to Kosher practises, Thomas bakes solely based on taste; Thomas has no ties to a sense of family and Anat is busy with her own. Despite the fact that Anat remains unaware of Thomas’ secret and the surface level gulf between their lives, the two continue to search each other for any remnants of Oren.
‘Despite the fact that Anat remains unaware of Thomas’ secret and the surface level gulf between their lives, the two continue to search each other for any remnants of Oren’
There’s a particularly striking scene in which a flashback of Oren describing where he kisses Anat is overlayed with current-day Thomas finding the same places on her body. The audience is left to question what or whom Thomas is really kissing, thinking about or longing for.
There inlays the strength of The Cakemaker; with its grief and sexuality there are no neat, Hollywood answers or endings. Instead, Graizer champions a story that is not defined by a single identity, showcasing the complexity and intersections that exist within a single person. Whether they be political, sexual or national; otherwise known as being a human yet still somehow lost in most popular media.
‘There inlays the strength of The Cakemaker; with its grief and sexuality there are no neat, Hollywood answers or endings’
When you watch this film, let go of the desire to know and you’ll find yourself enthralled with multiple mini-tensions of religion, love and grief.
The Cakemaker will be screening as part of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival (MQFF) on Tuesday March 20th at 6:00pm at ACMI Cinema 2, and on Sunday March 25th at 2:00pm at Cinema Nova