• Review: Dough (2016)

    From Mark R. Leeper@21:1/5 to All on Sat Apr 23 09:39:15 2016
    (a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

    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.

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    Mark R. Leeper
    Copyright 2016 Mark R. Leeper

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