Dough movie review: it’s a bit too unleavened

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Dough yellow light

MaryAnn’s quick take…

Its message of interfaith understanding is an undeniably necessary one; too bad it’s delivered with the obvious broad humor of a sitcom Very Special Episode.tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Elderly widower Nat (Jonathan Pryce: The White King) runs a kosher bakery in London’s East End, his decades-old family business the last holdout against a developer (Phil Davis: Mr. Holmes) who wants to turn the whole neighborhood into chain stores. But the bakery is failing, and unless Nat can turn things around, his life’s work is finished. Enter Ayyash (Jerome Holder: Honeytrap), the Sudanese refugee and wannabe pot dealer whom Nat reluctantly hires as an apprentice and assistant (no one else wants the job). Then, one day, hiding his stash in the dough — yeah: dumb — Ayyash accidentally invents pot challah bread, and the bakery takes off as an unlikely new East London hipster spot. The humor is, as you may expect, broad and obvious: Nat’s randy widow landlord (Pauline Collins: Quartet) is hot-to-trot for him; Nat literally rends his garments in a moment of rage. The villain is cheesy. The bigotry to be overcome is of the mildest sort (a lot of you peoples get tossed around). The “unlikely” friendship that develops between Nat and Ayyash is wholly predictable. And yet Dough — which won several audience awards at Jewish film festivals across the US in 2016 — has some nice moments of good-natured interfaith banter,tweet and one lovely sequence intercuts Nat’s and Ayyash’s prayer rituals to demonstrate how alike their religious practices are. This joint UK-Hungary production was shot in large part in Budapest and lacks a real London feeling, and director John Goldschmidt’s experience is mostly in TV, so this often feels like a Very Special Episode of a sitcom.tweet Dough’s message, from newbie screenwriters Jonathan Benson and Jez Freedman, is an undeniably necessary one, so it’s a shame its delivered in such broad strokes and with such a heavy hand.

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