Ofir Raul Grazier, the writer and director of “The Cakemaker,” serves up a look into the delicate issues of relationships, loss, desire to belong, pathways for self-expression and the complexities inherent in balancing grief with the responsibilities of life.
The talented cast includes Tim Kalkhof, Roy Miller, Sarah Adler, Zohar Strauss and Sandra Sade.
The story begins when Oren (Miller), an Israeli businessman on one of many trips from Jerusalem to Berlin, enters a bakery and has an immediate connection with Thomas (Kalkhof), a German baker. All his desserts are passionately prepared and visually exquisite. Oren consumes the Black Forest cake.
We hear of Oren’s devotion to his wife and son, even though he engages in an ongoing sexual relationship with Thomas. In his last, hurried departure home, Oren forgets his keys and the cookies Thomas has prepared for Oren to give his wife, Anat (Adler).
After several failed attempts to reach Oren, Thomas learns that his lover has been killed in a car accident in Jerusalem. I would’ve liked more time to fall in love with Oren, as it would have bonded me more deeply to the characters, but this is where the plot widens to embrace varied themes.
Thomas travels to Jerusalem and eats at the kosher cafe Anat has opened, never revealing that he knew Oren. Soon, he’s working there, pouring his passion into the dough of his German cakes and cookies, which bring success to the cafe.
Meanwhile, Oren’s brother, Motti (Strauss), disagrees with Anat’s choice to hire a German, straining long-held religious beliefs. While Thomas’ desire to inhabit Oren’s energy is intriguing, the film moves at a slow pace. The film is well acted, but it appears as if the script or direction is nearly void of emotion.
“The Cakemaker” unravels the individual struggles of each character, joined by the common thread of grief that weaves them together. The abrupt ending is unsatisfying, but the film is still worth viewing.
(Atlanta Jewish Film Festival screenings: Jan. 27, 3:25 p.m., Atlantic Station, and 8:20 p.m., Hollywood; Jan. 28, 7:45 p.m., Perimeter Pointe; Feb. 4, 7:55 p.m., Tara; Feb. 6, 3:45 p.m., Springs)