The Cakemaker (העופה מברלין), directed by Ofir Raul Grazier, tells a compelling and surprisingly tender romantic story about a German man named Thomas who runs a coffee shop in Berlin.
He has an affair with Oren, an Israeli man, married with a six-year-old boy, who travels to Berlin monthly for his work. When Oren dies in a car accident back in Jerusalem, Thomas is left bereft. He travels to Jerusalem, searching for evidence of his love. He is a simple man – he states early in the film that he has so much in his life – his coffeeshop, his apartment, and his love for Oren. Thomas searches out Oren’s wife and obtains a job working for her in her Jerusalem coffee shop. He starts out washing dishes in the kitchen, but eventually his work expands as his talents for baking become apparent.
This is a human story, a story about loneliness and finding love and losing it. The gay baker from Berlin and the grieving widow work together in the same coffee shop. He is very conscious of their love for the same man, but she is unaware of their peculiar relationship. It is a bit slow-moving, and the dialogue is minimalist. But so much is told visually. For example, we often watch Thomas’ hands kneading the dough, working hard, in a therapeutic and sensual way.
Jerusalem and Berlin are also main characters in the film, making the film all the more authentic illustrating how it brought together two men, across a huge divide. And what seems to link us together across this divide? Two things – love for the same man, and Thomas’ wonderfully successful cakes and beautifully decorated cookies.
There is also narrative tension built through the religious theme – what does it mean to hire a non-Jewish worker in a kosher establishment? And Shabbat becomes a major player – the Shabbat siren, Shabbat Kiddush blessings, Shabbat food, invitations to Shabbat dinner, the town crier yelling “shabbes” to signify the beginning of the day.
The Cakemaker is a beautifully made romantic film, well-worth seeing, a feature debut for filmmaker, Ofir Raul Grazier.