A contemporary Danish study of the human condition, Bakerman is the latest film from director David Noel Bourke. Starring an unlikely protagonist living a repetitious and uninspiring life, Bakerman follows his journey towards superhero status, dubbing him ‘Bakerman’.
In the film, we follow Jens, a shy night-owl who works as a baker in the early hours of the morning. He lives alone in a cottage and keeps to himself, except for the once a week where he referees amateur football. The film follows his repetitious and dull life perfectly, so when the upset comes it is confronting to the audience. One morning, Jens’ car is attacked by a group of rebellious youths. On impulse, Jens grabs a tyre iron and knocks one of the youths down, killing him. Then, he hunts down and kills another one. The consequences of his actions force Jens to come out of his shell, but this intoxicating behaviour spirals, leading Jens into a free fall. Here, the repetitious imagery is switched, and instead, Jens becomes a vigilante. This newfound confidence assists him when he sees a man beating a woman. Knocking him over the head, he saves the woman, an immigrant, and she takes up residence in his house.
Bakerman is full of subtext, as with many contemporary character studies. One view of the story is its take on immigration, especially considering all the antagonists in Jens’ life are of foreign appearance. The youths that smash his car are immigrants, and the bakery he works at was recently taken over by a Middle Eastern man, a man who has since run the bakery into the ground due to the subpar quality of ingredients. However, Bakerman can also be read as a tale of heroism, as depicted through its unlikely protagonist. Jens feels like he is a hero when he starts taking out the city’s lowlifes. When he invites the woman he saved to his sisters dress up party, he wears a superhero outfit, only confirming that he has reached superhero status. The title, Bakerman, also lends to this idea of the hero. In that sense, it’s a very serious, thought-provoking and touching look at the human condition.
In terms of style, Bakerman is beautifully made. As mentioned above, the first half of the film is repetitious, atmospheric and beautifully put together to show just how Jens lives each day. However, once he rescues the woman the aesthetics and narrative of the film weaken, as though less thought out than the first half. Luckily, this isn’t enough to deter from an otherwise beautiful film.
Overall, Bakerman is typically Scandinavian; dark, straight-to-the-point, and dark in comedy. It’s beautifully made, thought-provoking and a must-see at the film festivals it’ll travel to. Bourke is a thoughtful and interesting director, and definitely one to watch.