CAPSULE: DOUGH is an affable if overly familiar comedy- drama about an Orthodox Jewish baker who takes a Muslim boy for an assistant not knowing that the boy is a marijuana dealer using the job to hide his profits from his illicit business. The two learn to like each other and help each other though their lives' trials. John Goldschmidt directs a script by Jonathan Benson and Jez Freedman. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10
Jonathan Pryce plays Nat Dayan, the last baker in a line going back at least a century. Nat knows the bakery is failing and his son, a successful lawyer, chose not to be a baker. When Nat is gone--a time fast approaching--the bakery will have to close and the ever- diminishing Jewish community in the neighborhood will have no place to buy his quality of fresh baked goods. Nat needs an assistant and hopefully an apprentice who will continue the bakery going. Meanwhile a superstore chain is opening in Nat's neighborhood with the power to out-compete Nat at every turn.
Ayyash (Jerome Holder) is a very small-time drug dealer who may be getting a little money dealing that may need explaining. He needs a place to work. His mother suggests the bakeshop she goes to, and so an orthodox Jewish baker gets a Muslim assistant who really is up to no good. Each has prejudices against the other, but he stifles them because he has other agenda. Ayyash decides to deal drugs out of the bakeshop and it is not long before the drugs and the fresh bread get mixed. Suddenly Nat's customers find that they really have a good time when they eat Nat's bread, and nobody guesses what is going on.
There is little here to laugh out loud about, but there are some warm moments. It is hard to believe that people can be getting a (mild) drug high off of Nat's Challah bread and nobody has a clue what is going on. That is true even in Nat's family where two minor jokes have the entire table in uproarious laughter. At times the film stretches the viewer's credulity. But while the selection of characters created is far from original, Goldschmidt does give the actors some life. Jonathan Pryce may well be able to play an Orthodox Jew, and might well be capable in the role. But perhaps a less familiar actor could have been more believable. I was always aware I was seeing Jonathan Pryce rather than Nat the baker. To some degree the same is true of Pauline Collins as Joanna the landlady, but she has so much less a part in the proceedings. Jerome Holder has an advantage being by far the least familiar actor of the three. It may well be that most of us are less familiar with the nuances of African Muslim behavior and Holder seems authentic. The neighborhood, what we see of it, looks rather like the streets of London. Well, the film was shot partly in London and partly in Budapest--an economic choice.
Stories of people of opposite cultures who find they get along are common in films and only a little less common in the real world. Nevertheless they probably do some good. And this film seems to be something of an audience pleaser. That makes DOUGH one of the better films of the season. I rate DOUGH a high +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10. Dough opens in several major cities on April 29.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1517471/combined
What others are saying: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/dough/
Mark R. Leeper Copyright 2016 Mark R. Leeper