What happens when you have Nicholas Brody, Jaime Lannister (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau) and Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) together in a movie?
The Baker happens!
The Baker (aka Assassin in Love in the US) is an independent British movie, in fact, a black comedy shot in Wales and a family project, too: co-produced by the Lewis brothers, written and directed by younger brother Gareth and starring the older brother Damian.
Gareth Lewis wrote a real fun piece for The Guardian just before the movie was released in 2008 on how Lewis & Lewis worked it out on the set. And this is how Gareth, in his own words, cast Damian in his movie:
Gareth: You want to be in my film?
😀 😀 😀
Gareth adds about the moment:
“It just seemed like a good idea: Damian was perfect for the role, he liked the script, liked me, I liked him, I bought him another beer and thrust the contract under his nose. It was a beautiful moment.”
How did the collaboration work out? Let’s first hear from Gareth:
“I’m from the school of gritted teeth, with the occasional explosive release under (semi-)controlled circumstances. As it turned out, my teeth were no more worn down at the end of the shoot than at the start. It seemed to me that the same was the case for Damian. He was loving it. Wasn’t he? Well, he’s a great actor, and when he tells me he had a great time, who am I to doubt? So he had to go for long walks, clenching and unclenching his fists and chanting a mantra he’d been given by his yogi, to help him calm down. But otherwise it was like being kids playing make-believe again – only with more expensive toys.”
It seems the younger brother has as good a sense of humor as his older brother 🙂
Gareth Lewis shares a bit more about their experience on The Baker set with The Sunday Times:
“…getting on set with Damian was like playing again. I’d come over to give him a note after a take, and he’d practically know what I was going to say. He knows when I’m not happy and I can tell by looking at him when he’s about to lose it. But it was a tantrum-free set. We shared quarters in a converted monastery in the Wye valley, and every night one of us would be cooking up pasta and sticking the rushes on.”
Sounds like fun!
But what does the older brother think about working with his younger brother? Damian tells The Independent:
“Maybe at the end of each working day, the Coen brothers throw knives at pictures of each other when they get home, but Gareth and I had such fun. It was like being kids again, only more sophisticated… Perhaps I should say, ‘only marginally more sophisticated’! We certainly have more expensive toys now.”
Comedy is a genre we don’t often see Damian in. He usually plays complicated characters in dark drama settings, so The Baker is a good example that he can actually do comedy and do it very well! Besides, we know he loves comedy. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, when asked about TV shows that would interest him after the Season 3 Finale of Homeland, he says:
“I love Mad Men and Game of Thrones, but I’d really like to guest on Modern Family or Veep — something like 30 Rock.”
I strongly recommend The Baker to those of you that enjoy quirky small town characters doing absurd stuff and I guarantee quite a few good laughs, too! Besides, who would not like to see the life in a remote Welsh town called Gwynfyd? 🙂 I believe Damian agrees. This is what he shares with The Independent just before the movie gets released in the UK:
“I like the fact that it gets away from conventions. There are several moments that are really quite weird. It’s great, for example, that the local village idiot likes blowing up sheep. People can be scared of these sort of off-the-wall ideas. I think strangeness is great, but the problem is people don’t always know how to market strangeness.”
Our protagonist, Milo, is an assassin, a sensitive one, who wants to quit his professional life. He violates the code, and does not kill a man that he was supposed to kill, and the “management” decides to send another assassin, Bjorn (Coster-Waldau), to terminate him. The character is sort of a tribute to Alain Delon’s Jeff Castello in Le Samourai. They are both professional hit men living with a little bird in a cage and both films open with a long shot of the main character lying in bed! 😀
Milo talks to an old, assassin friend in retirement, Leo (Gambon) who tells him he could go and stay safe at his property in the country. The only detail Milo doesn’t know is that the place he would stay in the country is a bakery!
So, Milo moves to Gwynfyd! Because he stays in the bakery, the villagers believe that he is the new baker. They have been waiting for him. The guy that owns the local bar says he understood he was the baker the first time he saw him. “There is a fresh aura of bread about you” he says.
Not to blow his cover, Milo adopts the name “Milo Shakespeare” and gets to work. To get rid of his past, he buries all his work equipment, but a young local boy, Eggs, sees him. He unburies the weapons, and with a little bit of research, he understands that the guy that they all think of as a baker is actually a professional assassin. Eggs believes “The Baker” is here for a mission!
Milo becomes The Baker, hires Eggs as his assistant and also meets Rhiannon, a beautiful young woman that works at the pub. The village seems to be a quiet and peaceful place, but in fact, every local wants somebody else dead. The local chips shop owner Rhys makes the first move. He cannot stand his wife — well, he has his reasons… and I really cannot blame him 🙂 He goes to the bakery and orders his wife’s murder… as follows!
Rhys: “You know, bake her a cake?”
Milo: “Bake her a cake? You want me to bake your wife a cake? What kind of cake?”
Milo: “Of course, I can bake her a cake.”
Milo: “Cakes are what I do.”
Rhys: “Ah… so it’s true. You are THE Baker.”
Milo: “Yes, I am.”
And… the wife dies a few days later, but not because Milo kills her, she dies in a house accident. But, of course, Rhys thinks that it was all taken care of by the Baker! He was impressed. So, Milo’s business really picks up with more and more “cake” orders, and things get complicated… Really complicated…
The movie has some really good moments… and one scene that I cannot help talking about when I talk about The Baker is that the movie has the most hilarious love scene that I have ever seen. I am not 100% on this, but my hunch is that the scene is a parody of the famous scene in the cult movie 9 and 1/2 Weeks with Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger. At least, that’s my take.
See the scene here and decide yourself!
When asked about the sex scene in a TV interview Damian says:
“It was fun to do… it was fun to do until we had to re-shoot a bit of it because we realized it hadn’t worked… and we had ourselves all dried off and cleaned… and then actually stood there in the cold day of light and well you know the props people came out and smeared custard on us…”
Well, this is even more hilarious than the scene itself 🙂
And what does Gareth think about filming his brother in a sex scene?
“There was still the small matter of the sex scene. Was it going to be weird directing my brother getting semi-naked with a beautiful woman? It’s hard enough to direct a sex scene without inviting your family to get involved. Put it this way: in the end, it was weirder filming him getting knocked unconscious by a sheep’s head. Read that how you like.”
Well, see the movie and decide for yourself. The movie is available on Prime Video in the US as Assassin in Love and now in the UK, too, as The Baker.
Bottomline: A bit over the top, absurd at times, comedy with a great soundtrack. What’s not to like? ENJOY!