I often hate the titles movies have, but “Dough” is perfect for this.
Jonathan Pryce (Brazil, Pirates of the Caribbean) is Nat, the owner of a Jewish bakery called Dayan & Son. He wants his son (Daniel Caltagirone) to get involved in the business, but he’s a successful attorney, so that’s not happening (despite his children loving the treats grandpa brings over for dinner).
The place has been in the family since Nat’s father owned it. Now he gets up at 4 a.m., as he has since the ‘40s, when it was first opened in East London.
The plot (and pastries) thicken, when a weaselly developer (Philip Davis) tries buying the buildings on the block. My favorite line is when he sees the big crowds outside the bakery and muses, “”It’s like ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ meets ‘West Side Story’ out there?”
When Nat is at wits end after putting an ad on the window seeking help, his janitor Safia (Natasha Gordon) suggests her son Ayyash (Jerome Holder, in a break-out performance) start working for him. He begrudgingly agrees to take on the youngster.
Ayyash is an immigrant, who ditches school and sells pot. He’s also Muslim. Of course, they hate each other at first, but they grow to care about each other. The business also improves as does Ayyash’s cooking skills. He catches on fast, and…he’s selling dope out of the shop. When he ends up selling pot-laced challah and hash brownies, sales go through the roof. Nothing like having your customers buying pot in pastries, and then having them get the munchies and come back again.
The characters have great chemistry, and that goes a long way. Especially since some of these plot lines are half-baked (see what I did there?), and go into sitcom territory.
Some of those sitcom moments include a lonely landlady (Pauline Collins), who goes overboard in her interactions with Nat.
There’s a drug dealer (Ian Hart), who at first is interesting, as he explains what he expects from Ayyash. His character eventually goes down paths that don’t feel authentic.
Director John Goldschmidt (She’ll Be Wearing Pink Pyjamas) may have been a bit formulaic, but he has nice touches of subtle humor.
The movie is heartwarming, although I never quite understood what Ayyash was thinking with his master plan. I can’t explain what the problem is, without spoiling.
I enjoyed it enough to give it 3 stars out of 5.