Dough is a sweet, feel-good film from England that may not edge out Captain America at the box-office but offers what TV folks call counter-programming. It’s aimed at mature (read: older) moviegoers who favor simple, straightforward storytelling over special effects—which doesn’t and shouldn’t exclude younger viewers—and it delivers on its promise. It also offers a leading role to the great Jonathan Pryce (familiar to mass audiences from Game of Thrones).
Pryce plays an Orthodox Jew who has inherited the neighborhood kosher bakery started by his immigrant father in 1947. He is proud to carry on a family tradition (even though his customer base is shrinking) and resentful that his son has become a successful lawyer instead of joining him in the business. When his apprentice quits to work for a supermarket right next door, owned by a greedy and ambitious rival, he is forced to hire his cleaning woman’s son, a young African immigrant (Jerome Holder) who has no knowledge of baking—and is a practicing Muslim. Desperate for money, the young man is also dealing drugs on the side, and inadvertently ties his two jobs together. Meanwhile, Pryce is faced with the possibility of having his building sold by his landlord, a widow who’s always had a yen for him, played by the delightful Pauline Collins.
Dough, written by Jonathan Benson and Yehudah Jez Freedman and directed by John Goldschmidt, deals with issues of immigration, assimilation, changing times and values, but brings a light touch to these topics. This is escapist fare that doesn’t ignore today’s realities but explores them through a prism of humor. Some of it is broad and a bit obvious but the movie is so likable that it’s hard to complain. Besides, any film that celebrates the making of challah is OK by me.
Incidentally, the distributor, Menemsha Films, is conducting a contest: the prize is a trip for two to New York and tickets to see Jonathan Pryce as another formidable Jew named Shylock in The Merchant of Venice at Lincoln Center. You can learn more HERE.