A little known gem- 2007’s The Baker is a British comedy starring Damien Lewis (star of Homeland and Band of Brothers,) as a retiring assassin trying to escape his old life and dangerous former associates. Abandoning the big city Milo (Damien Lewis,) takes up residence in a small Welsh village as a rival killer attempts to track him down. The insular, gossipy, rivalry filled village of Gwynfyd, makes for the perfect setting as an intricate set of mis-understandings (and the villagers suspicions of Milo’s past,) lead to a series of coincidental accidents and deaths.
Damien Lewis is fantastic as Milo whose comical and naive attempts to open up the bakery he moves into give the film its title. He’s not the only star in The Baker though, Michael Gambon and Nikolaj Coster-Waldou (better known as Jaime Lannister from Game of Thrones,) also feature. Coster-Waldou plays the assassin hunting Milo down and his role is littered with puns and sign-posts to his apparent homosexuality, Gambons’ role is fairly small but makes for a welcome smattering of star quality.
It’s the characters in The Baker that will live on in your memory.
The film is written well and the spoof of a small village is well delivered, the ‘everyone knows everyone’ feel is combined with an intriguing selection of oddball characters and the effect this creates as Milo tries to settle in becomes the backbone of the films’ humour and provides plenty of laughs. The insular feeling of the village is integral to the strangeness of its characters and it’s the characters in The Baker that will live on in your memory. A melodramatic pub landlord, an energetic, conspiracy-theory obsessed teenager and a depraved gardening enthusiast all bring Gwynfyd to life. Also, notably, The Baker was the first feature length project of Director Gareth Lewis, who also wrote the screenplay for the film. (A remarkable debut- keep an eye out for his future releases.) His visual choices also made Gwynfyd an interesting setting, each shot is colourful and bright in stark contrast to the film’s opening scenes- a visual nod to Milo’s optimism in his new life.
The Baker will have you invested in its characters, uplifted by its soundtrack and amused by its gags.
One of the stand out scenes in The Baker follows an accidental death- sombrely gathered round the coffin, inside the small local pub, the landlord announces quietly ‘and now for a song that will always remind us of Martha,’ moments later the whole village is energetically singing ‘Volare’ (the instantly recognisable Spanish language Gipsy Kings hit,) and the funeral mood is abandoned. The fantastic portrayal of these strange moments is made better still by the fact that the audience experiences them alongside Milo- he’s confused too.
The negligible amount of media attention the film accrued was un-just and the lack of recognition it receives from film buffs and the casual viewer alike is a real surprise given the quality of the film as a whole. Overall The Baker will have you invested in its characters, uplifted by its soundtrack and amused by its gags. Damien Lewis steals the show performance wise but the film is littered with memorable characters and memorable rivalries. Get your hands on a copy.
By George Storr