Dough (3 stars)

Dough

Feelgood culture-clash dramedy from director John Goldschmidt, starring Jonathan Pryce

Grieving widower and elderly Orthodox Jewish baker Nat Dayan (Jonathan Pryce) loses his apprentice to a tentacle-spreading supermarket, while a greedy villain is after the bakery property, so his dwindling old family business looks done for. Meanwhile teenaged African Muslim refugee Ayyash (Jerome Holder) is desperate for work and falls into the clutches of a thuggish drug dealer. Ayyash's mum persuades the sceptical youth to work for the equally reluctant baker, both with their preconceptions and prejudices. But the enterprising lad takes to baking and decides to combine both his jobs, lacing the goods liberally with cannabis, creating a dramatic upturn in the shop's fortunes.

This very British comedy-drama (actually a UK-Hungarian co-production, shot in North London and Budapest, though you wouldn't know it) has a number of things gently going for it. Chief among these is a reliable cast of fine actors: the great Pryce and very promising CBBC alumnus Holder (Tracy Beaker) heading an ensemble that includes Phil Davis as Nat's nemesis, Ian Hart as the drug dealing bruiser menacing Ayyash, and the charming Pauline Collins as a flirtatious widow with her eye on Nat.

It has nice moments: from the Dayans' weekly family dinner becoming ever more mirthful as they innocently nosh on kosher marijuana loaves, to Nat and Ayyash re-enacting Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in a bungled criminal caper. And, of course, it has the heartwarming theme of two fellas overcoming their differences of race, religion, culture and age to become friends. Happily their alliance against bigotry, bullying and big business is not entirely predictable either, with a stream of difficulties, disputes and challenges to overcome – however improbably.

It isn't surprising, though, that this small, sweet-natured, competently realised effort from director John Goldschmidt has taken about two years to find theatrical distribution in the UK. A year ago it did find a niche audience in the US, where there are enough people to embrace a modest feelgood story and make limited distribution profitable. Here, maybe not so much.

Limited release from Fri 2 Jun.

Dough

  • 3 stars
  • 2015
  • UK/Hungary
  • 1h 34min
  • 15
  • Directed by: John Goldschmidt
  • Cast: Jonathan Pryce, Jerome Holder, Ian Hart, Andrew Ellis
  • UK release: 2 June 2017

Orthodox Jewish baker Nat (Pryce) is mourning his wife and his business is failing,so he reluctantly hires teenaged Muslim refugee Ayyash (Holder). Then Ayyash accidentally drops his cannabis stash into the challah dough. Modest and sweet-natured feelgood tale.

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