PIFF 2021: Cream – Review

Release Date – TBC, Cert – N/A, Run-time – 1 hour 29 minutes, Director – Nóra Lakos

A bakery owner (Vica Kerekes) assembles a fake family (László Mátray, Erik Gyarmati) in the hope of winning a cash prize that could save her business.

“From now on I only care about my pastry shop” defiantly claims Dora (Vica Kerekes), a woman in her mid-30s who’s life is dedicated to the survival of her bakery. It’s a place themed around classic Hollywood movie romances, and Kevin Costner. If you buy one cake you have to buy the other, Robert Redford must go with Barbra Streisand in The Way We Were. After a break-up with her boyfriend David (Miklós Bányai) her shop ‘Hab’ (Cream) becomes the only important thing in her life that she’ll do anything to save, especially as it faces risk of closure. This includes creating a new, fictional life for herself with a fake family in the hope of winning a cash prize that could save her livelihood by coming across as the most closely bonded.

However, even a false family can be highly dysfunctional. Dora recruits nearby dentist and part-time DJ Marci (László Mátray), more of an acquaintance who she doesn’t overly know a lot about but is the best she can find at such short notice. However the competition is for family businesses and so the pair need to find a temporary child. Cue precocious wannabe child actor Lacika (Erik Gyarmati), who throughout is concerned about who his character is meant to be, Tommy Wiseau’s Disaster Artist advice of “don’t be Brando today” was made for this kid. In a film of engaging comedic performances he manages to stand out with some brilliantly funny delivery. While one narrative element of his relationship with an older girl from another family in the competition does start off as somewhat uncomfortable director and co-writer (with Fruzsina Frekete and Yvonne Kerékgyártó) Nóra Lakos manages to even things out to lower such a feeling as the narrative progresses.

Competing in the same event are a number of equally dysfunctional, although real, families. Each with their own personal secrets, quirks and attitudes. Their interactions within their own circles, and with the people they find themselves residing near and with for the duration of the competition make for plenty of humour. The performances throughout are undeniably good and bring about a number of the laughs and bring to life the screenplay. As already established Dora is a fan of classic Hollywood rom-coms and dramas, and in this film she certainly seems to be living a rom-com narrative, even finding herself playing the lead. Yet, Cream never manages to feel overstuffed with clichés and conventions. It carries itself along and thanks to the enjoyable characters and humour that’s injected into their interactions and relationships there’s plenty to like.

Kerekes makes for a strong lead who finely demonstrates the various elements of guilt and determination that the central figure of the film feels. Both in comedic and lightly dramatic senses. Her façade is thrown into disarray and something in need of carefully constructed planning and backstory when her ex attends the same event with his wife, his reason for leaving Dora was that he was engaged throughout their relationship. It’s a line of standard happenings and yet it never quite feels that way within Lakos’ film. It’s an enjoyable, entertaining and often funny line that brings the viewer in with brightness, both in terms of visuals and characters. It’s an engaging rom-com in itself, potentially aware of its conventions, but rarely hindered by them. Instead indulging in its figures and their equally dysfunctional relationships for an effectively funny rom-com.

There’s plenty to enjoy within the various dysfunctional relationships that make up Cream’s narrative, and the performances that help bring about the humour amongst the possibly aware rom-com conventions.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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