'Dough': Film Review

Dough still 1 - H 2016
Courtesy of Neil Genower
The lead performers deliver the goods in this half-baked comedy.

Jonathan Pryce plays an elderly Jewish baker who forms an unlikely bond with his Muslim immigrant apprentice in John Goldschmidt's comedy.

An elderly Jewish baker takes a Muslim immigrant from Africa under his wing in John Goldschmidt's British comedy that feels like an unproduced sitcom pilot from the 1970s. Fortunately, the terrific lead performances by Jonathan Pryce and newcomer Jerome Holder are enough to help Dough rise above its formulaic ingredients.

The story revolves around the travails of widower Nat Dayan (Pryce), the elderly proprietor of a kosher bakery in London's East End that was started by his father nearly 60 years ago. The business is now facing hard times, due to changing neighborhood demographics that have attracted the interest of a rapacious real estate developer (Philip Davis) who covets the property.

Nat would like nothing more than to have the bakery stay in the family, but his lawyer son (Daniel Caltagirone) has zero interest. When Nat finds himself in need of an assistant, he reluctantly hires Ayyash (Holder), the teenage son of his cleaning woman, who has been making money by dealing pot.

Stop me if you've heard this one before, but one day Ayyash accidentally drops some of his stash into the dough and the resulting challah bread begins selling like, well, hotcakes. The bakery's struggling sales suddenly turn around, with an unaware Nat even reversing his ban on brownies after delightedly tasting samples laced with his apprentice's secret ingredient.

Among the other characters figuring in the proceedings are Nat's recently widowed landlord (Pauline Collins), who makes no secret of her designs on him, and the local drug dealer (Ian Hart) who doesn't look kindly on having the bakery as competition.

It's all about as predictable as it sounds, but it works anyway, thanks to some snappy dialogue — "It's like Fiddler on the Roof meets West Side Story out there," someone comments about the long lines that have sprung up outside the shop — and the engaging turns by old pros Pryce and Collins. The former underplays nicely, fortunately not overdoing Jewish shtick, while the latter delights as the widow ready to step out only six weeks after her husband's death. And Holder is a real find as the kid from Darfur whose new employer becomes an unlikely father figure. The burgeoning cross-cultural relationship is depicted with a warmth and humor that will have you kvelling.

Distributor: Menemsha Films
Production companies: Docler Entertaniment, Viva Films, Three Coloured Dog Films
: Jonathan Pryce, Jerome Holder, Philip Davis, Ian Hart, Pauline Collins, Natasha Gordon, Daniel Caltigirone
Director: John Goldschmidt
Screenwriters: Yehudah Jez Freedman, Jonathan Benson
Producers: Gyorgy Gattyan, Andras Somkuti, John Goldschmidt, Wolfgang Esenwein
Executive producers: Geraldine East, Peter Bruno Gyorgy
Director of photography: Peter Hannan
Production designer: Jon Bunker
Editor: Michael Ellis
Costume designer: Stewart Meachem
Composer: Lorne Balfe
Casting: Celestia Fox

Not rated, 94 minutes