Saturday movie review: Dough

The movie DOUGH is about Muslims. And Jews. And immigrants. And marijuana-infused baked goods. All hot topics in our current volatile (and often downright vile) political climate.

Unlike political discussions on such hot-button immigration, race and religion matters, though, DOUGH leaves no sour taste for viewers.

DOUGH movie

While DOUGH touches on — embraces even — serious issues, the British comedy drama turned out to be quite sweet and digestible. Because of the story and honest performances more so than the bakery goodies featured throughout.

The bare bones of the humorous and heartwarming plot: Nat Dayan (Jonathan Pryce), an aging Jewish bakery owner struggling to keep afloat his family business in London's East End reluctantly hires the troubled son of his Muslim cleaning woman, Safa (Natasha Gordon), an immigrant from Darfur. Ayyash (newcomer Jerome Holder) reluctantly takes the apprentice position — only because it works well as a "front" for his budding cannabis sales position with a local thug pot dealer.

Nat and Ayyash both have prejudices toward the other but do their best to make the partnership work. Nat so he can keep his business despite his lawyer son urging him to sell, Ayyash so he can raise the funds to move his mother and himself from their current slum-like residence as they await Ayyash's father to join them from Africa.

Quite by accident (and unbeknownst to Nat), Ayyash's stash of pot turns out to be just what the bakery needs to boost its sales. As business grows, so does the relationship between Nat and Ayyash — as well as the relationship between Nat and his widowed landlord, Joanna (Pauline Collins).

Then... the truth comes out, new allegiances tested, dreams for both Nat and Ayyash seemingly dashed.


DOUGH may be a wee bit cliche and predictable but to its credit avoids a heavy hand in addressing racial and religious (and cultural) differences as well as the concerns of aging adults — chief among them loneliness and one's relevance and legacy. While pot plays a big part in the film, it's not the primary issue. Nor should it be when, like in the real world, acceptance of others matters so much more than marijuana.

As is often the case for me with films featuring well-established (and amazing) actors playing alongside newcomers, I found Jerome Holder's performance especially intriguing. DOUGH is his first film, yet he held his own against his seasoned co-stars. He embodied a teen unapologetically doing wrong things for very right reasons while remaining committed to his faith, his family, and, ultimately, the father-like figure changing his life.

Pryce played not only a pretty remarkable albeit reluctant father figure to Holder, but a heartwarming widower working up the nerve to court Collins, too. Collins always strikes me as equal measures of sweet and silly in each film I've seen her, and in DOUGH she offered up my favorite line: "Race and religion are irrelevant. If you're a dickhead, then you're a dickhead." A tasty nugget of truth we all would be wise to keep in mind.

Director John Goldschmidt and the cast of DOUGH likely didn't suspect at the time of filming how relevant the independent film might be soon after its release. But for those of us who are fed up with the back and forth political baloney in the news (and on Facebook and Twitter and IRL discussions between friends and family with opposing ideas), DOUGH provides watchable, enjoyable comic relief on touchy topics — as well as an example of what it looks like to accept one another regardless of race, religion, or immigrant status.

Pauline Collins confirming my silly-sweet description of her (and making me just want to give her a hug) in a promo that ran before the film in theaters:

DOUGH (not rated) opened in theaters in April of 2016. It has won several audience awards at various festivals since then and is now available on streaming services (I streamed it on Netflix), On Demand, DVD and Bluray.