Friend of the Family

The Cakemaker

by George Wolf

A delicately subtle and sometimes poetic film, The Cakemaker boasts sterling performances and finely drawn characters for a resonant meditation of love, loss, faith and…food.

Thomas (Tim Kalkhof in a wonderfully tender, understated turn) is a German baker at a Berlin cafe. He begins a long-term affair with Oren (Roy Miller), an Israeli businessman with a wife and son in Jerusalem. When Oren misses his monthly visit to Berlin and calls go unanswered, it takes some persistence on Thomas’s part to discover that Oren has been killed in a car accident.

Grief and confusion take Thomas to Berlin, where he discreetly seeks out Oren’s widow Arat (Foxtrot‘s Sarah Adler – excellent again), takes a job baking at her cafe, and assumes a growing place in her life. This brings differing (and telling) reactions from Arat’s family, and could threaten her cafe’s important kosher certification.

Writer/director Ofir Raul Graizer adopts a quiet, observational tone that is deceptively effective. Though this type of triangle may not be new (especially to foreign film fans), the way Graizer lingers on little moments (especially those in the kitchen) make even the most mundane encounters seem sensuous.

You may know where The Cakemaker is going, but getting there is a sweet and satisfying trip.

 

 

 

Come Dancing

Foxtrot

by George Wolf

From its opening shot – a slow, dizzying swirl above a patterned kitchen floor – Foxtrot commits to a cornerstone of disorientation. Through both narrative and camerawork, writer/director Samuel Maoz keeps you off balance as he constructs a deep, moving dive into one family’s struggle with loss and regret.

Jonathan (Yonaton Shiray), a soldier in the Israeli Army, is going about his mundane duties in a remote outpost when a tragic twist of fate occurs. Jonathan’s father Michael (Lior Ashkenazi delivering his usual excellence) and mother Daphna (Sarah Adler – also terrific) take the news of the accident, along with the news of a second, very unexpected development, very differently.

Maoz’s visuals, sometimes anachronistic, bold and darkly funny, are never less than fascinating. His writing is incisive and brilliantly layered, confidently moving toward a shattering finale without stopping to worry about whether you’re connecting every loose end.

Just when you may think you know where Maoz is going, you don’t. But the rug isn’t pulled by cheap gimmickry or emotional manipulation, but rather perfectly arranged pieces assembled by deeply affecting performances.

Like its namesake, a dance that will always lead you to “end up in the same place,” Foxtrot can be viewed from different angles with equal impact. You might see a sociopolitical statement on the filmmaker’s home country, a universal parable on the costs of war, or a starkly intimate take on family bonds.

Let it in, and this film will reveal layers of meaning and a lasting grip. Through Foxtrot, Maoz and his stellar performers are speaking with a stylish and bittersweet elegance.

Listen.