While sitting in his car in a parking garage a man witnesses a brutal fight between a group of men that ends with everyone dead. As he begins to call 911 he sees a large canvas bag. He grabs the bag and runs. Big mistake.
A film that shares a lot of movie DNa with “The History of Violence” and “Nobody,” “The Baker” tells the story of a man who is forced to return to a part of his life he thought he had left behind in order to protect his family. Here the man (Lan always excellent Ron Perlman) is a simple baker, quietly making rolls in his kitchen when his son unexpectedly drops by. Also unexpected? A granddaughter he never knew existed. The son asks his father to watch the girl for a short while as he takes care of some business. Reluctant to do so, but understanding the bond of family, the man agrees. What’s the girl’s name, he asks? Delphi.
Packed with action and bolstered by the performances of the cast, “The Baker” rises above the standard “anything for my family” tropes by exploring both the emotional baggage of the Baker and Delphi (Emma Ho). We learn that the girl hasn’t spoken since the passing of her mother, silently chronicling all she sees with a small camera. Even without words, the bond between grandfather and granddaughter grow.
I have been a fan of Ron Perlman’s since “Quest for Fire” and he has turned in some fine performances in film as diverse as “The Name of the Rose” and the “Hellboy” series. As a young boy my son loved watching the television series “Beauty and the Beast,” even though he thought it was called “Beauty and the Priest.” I once metl Perlman in New York and he signed a photo to my son, writing “the Priest” below his signature after I told him my son’s perception of the title.
Also standing out on screen, young Ms. Ho, who conveys more with her eyes then most actors can with an entire monologue. And it’s always fun to see Harvey Keitel on screen, here chewing scenery as the bad guy behind the film’s opening brutality.
As summer winds down, and you are overwhelmed by all of the “Barbieheimer” social media posts, I recommend taking the time to seek out “The Baker.” It “rises” to the occasion.