(director/writer: Ofir Raul Graizer; cinematographer: Omri Aloni; editor: Michal Oppenheim; music: Dominique Charpentier; cast: Tim Kalkhof  (Thomas), Sarah Adler (Anat Nachmias), Roy Miller (Oren Nachmias), Zohar Strauss (Moti), Sandra Sade (Hanna), Tamir Ben Yehuda (Itai Nachmias); Runtime: 113; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Itai Tamir; Strand Releasing; 2017-Israel/Germany-in English, Hebrew, German, with English subtitles if needed)

“An intriguing and atmospheric drama from the debut of the middle-aged Israeli writer-director Ofir Raul Graizer.” 

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz.

An intriguing and atmospheric drama. It’s the debut feature film of the middle-aged Israeli writer-director Ofir Raul Graizer, who is an openly gay filmmaker based in Germany. It’s inspired by real-life events, as it’s derived from a story of a friend of the director’s, while the relatives of the film’s widow resemble his religious father and secular mother.

Oren (Roy Miller) is a married Israeli engineer for an Israeli-German steel company, who every month visits Berlin on a business trip. Thomas (Tim Kalkhof) is a young baker who for the last year has an ongoing sexual relationship with him. When Oren is a no show one month, Thomas will learn through a visit to his lover’s Berlin office that he died recently in a car accident in Israel. Thomas then flies to Jerusalem and without letting on who he is (for whatever reason), the non-speaking Hebrew gets hired as a haltingly English speaking dishwasher in the small kosher café of Oren’s grieving widow Anat (Sarah Adler) and will soon get a chance to show-off his baking skills-which gets the attention of those in the café not only because his pastries are delicious but because by having the non-Jew as a baker it goes against the kosher rules.

The quiet, respectful and talented baker bonds with Anat and her young son (Tamir Ben Yehuda). While her brother-in-law (Zohar Strauss) doesn’t trust the newcomer, but Oren’s perceptive mother (Sandra Sade) recognizes that he’s also grieving and accepts him. All the scenes between them are tenderly accomplished.

It’s a delicate film that’s baked like a tasty confection made up of many different ingredients. Its movie appeal is as a well-conceived and non-judgmental human drama with a big heart. Though I question the epilogue, which left too much uncertainty to digest in one sitting, I still devoured it as a tasty oddball drama.

The carefully observed character study film is scheduled to be remade in America, with the possibility Graizer might be a writer on the project.

The Cakemaker

REVIEWED ON 3/23/2020  GRADE: B+