British comedy-drama Dough comically tackles issues of race and religion as a Jewish baker and Muslim refugee revive the fortunes of a bakery business. Thomas Brownridge takes a closer look…
Dough is the 25th credited film by director John Goldschmidt. His last film was way back in 1987 with Maschenka. Now coming back after a long break comes this comedic and delightful film Dough. Dough is a very British comedy film, covering issues between two religions, capitalism and family.
We are presented with two characters from very different backgrounds. Jewish, Nat Dayan (Jonathan Pryce) who owns and runs a bakery, which was passed down to him from his father and his father before him. While this is introduced to us, we are also introduced to Ayyash Habimana (Jerome Holder) who is an African-Muslim who has come to the UK for refuge through the Red Cross. Ayyash tries to earn money by becoming a drug dealer. While his mother keeps telling him to get a job, she introduces Ayyash to Nat. From this point onwards, the narrative takes a slow burner into the blossoming of two religions in a very strange circumstance.
Dough breaks down the normal social boundaries and stereotypes of Jews and Muslims. Nat and Ayyash have a father and son relationship. They deliver a unique relationship within these strange circumstances. We see the two men working together to keep the small bakery alive. Ayyash adds “herbs and spices” into the dough which ignites the sales within the bakery and keeps customers coming back for more. This huge adjustment is the key to Dough but also keeps the relationship between characters alive.
However, there is only so much you can do with a story about marijuana in dough. The film is a slow burner, like watching paint dry. It is difficult to keep your concentration when the same thing happens during the whole of the second act. It is only down to the third act where this stalemate gets exciting. By this point we have forgotten the wholesomeness of the original conceit. We are intrigued with what happens to the bakery and the characters within reason, but we have drifted away from what initially intrigued.
The best element to this humorous British film is the comedy. It is what you would class as “very British humour” – the sarcastic comments might come across as offensive or crude to some. The humour is very racial/religion orientated, due to the very stereotypical circumstance of Jews and Muslims not seeing eye to eye. The religion and racial comments are used for this comedy element, which in hindsight is well-handled but could be perceived as disrespectful.
It is more the supporting cast in Dough that shine; the likes of Phil Davis portraying the evil capitalist Sam Cotton and Andrew Ellis who plays a friend of Ayyash. But all the performances are strong but perhaps the characters suffer from being underwritten. There’s more that could have come from the protagonists.
Dough’s narrow-mindedness perhaps doesn’t allow for the full potential of the story to evolve and for the characters to excel. With more imagination to the script and a little bit more funding then this could have had the potential to be something special. However, the positive of Dough is how it breaks down the normal codes and conventions with religion, which is done perfectly. This was the heartbeat of the entire film, making you rethink some of the stereotypes.
Written by Thomas Brownridge
Directed by: John Goldschmidt
Written by: Jonathan Benson, Jez Freedman
Starring:Jonathan Pryce, Jerome Holder, Phil Davis, Ian Hart, Pauline Collins
Released: 2015 | Genre: Comedy-Drama
Country: UK/Hungary | IMDB
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Dough is released in cinemas in the UK and Ireland on June 2, 2017