Distributed By: Menemsha Films
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I love the fact that G-POP.net introduces me to all sorts of entertainment I may never have checked out if left to my own devices. I received the Dough Soundtrack by Lorne Balfe and loved the music, but it was the research regarding what the film was about that made me realize I should think about checking this film out.
Dough stars Jonathan Pryce as Nat Dayan, an elderly Orthodox Jewish man who is the second generation of Dayan’s running the Dayan Kosher Bakery. Nat’s son (Daniel Caltagirone) has no interest in the bakery, becoming a lawyer instead. His granddaughter (Melanie Freeman) loves the bakery, but is too young to become an apprentice. Nat’s most recent apprentice has gone over to his hated enemy (Phil Davis). Not having someone to leave his bakery to is heartbreaking and, on top of losing his wife a short time ago, Nat is beginning to feel his age.
In a darker part of town, Muslim Ayyash Habimana (Jerome Holder) is tired of living in his slum apartment. Refugees from Darfur, Ayyash worries over his hardworking mother (Natasha Gordon) who still believes that her missing husband will somehow be reunited with the family, taking them out of the poverty they are currently living in. Ayyash believes that his only hope lies with local drug dealer Victor Gerrard (Ian Hart), but Victor won’t give him a job dealing drugs until Ayyash can find a cover job.
While cleaning at the Dayan Bakery, Safa discovers that Nat is looking for an apprentice. She thinks this is a perfect job for her son and Ayyash agrees as it makes for a perfect cover job that will help him get the money he needs to take care of his family. Ayyash’s first days at the bakery are quite eventful, especially when, in an effort to hide his marijuana stash, he drops it into the mixer containing the dough Nat is about to use for hallah bread. As Nat teaches Ayyash how to knead the dough, Ayyash is devastated, but the results are incredible.
Soon everyone is talking about the amazing hallah bread being baked at the Dayan Bakery, giving Ayyash an idea – perhaps dealing out of the bakery wouldn’t be such a hard thing to do. As sales increase and Ayyash’s baking skills grow, so does a friendship between Nat and Ayyash. But when the competition becomes suspicious and Ayyash’s luck with Victor runs out, the future of the Dayan bakery comes into question. Can Nat and Ayyash somehow undo the damage and manage to save the one thing both hold precious?
At first reading one might think Dough a pot smoker of a film, but this movie is so much more. Sure, the premise has something to do with marijuana and many of the hilarious scenes in the film, such as the normally stuffy family dinner, the “Best Bridge Game Ever” and Nat’s best friend’s increased love life, but there is more to Dough than meets the eye. There are quite a few lessons to be learned from this movie.
The most important message in this film is tolerance – of race, of religion, of age. This movie comes around at just the right time, if you take into perspective the climate we live in. Nat was born in Britain, but his nemesis insists that he is an immigrant based on his Yiddish accent. Ayyash is a refugee from Darfur and therefore expected to be of low intelligence – don’t know where that stereotype comes from. Well, yes, I do – ignorance. It’s ignorance that leads Nat to believe the stereotypes about Muslims and ignorance that leads Ayyash to believe the stereotypes about Jews. It’s this very ignorance and belief in stereotypes, in addition to bad personal experiences that cause Ayyash to distrust Nat and vice versa. Once the two get to know each other and learn about their lives, they develop that trust and all of the prejudices are wiped clean. Thus, despite what others say, Nat is willing to continue allowing Aayash to work at his bakery. As one character says in the film, “Race and religion are irrelevant. If you're a dickhead, then you're a dickhead.”
Dough also teaches belief in tradition, but with tolerance for new things. Both Nat and Ayyash believe in traditions. For Ayyash, it is mainly the religious traditions, but there is also the traditional belief that the man of the house is supposed to provide for the family. For Nat the traditions are religious as well as cultural and professional. He has a ritual for prayer, a ritual for daily preparation of the bakery, and the very cultural tradition of passing down your profession to your children. While Nat is heartbroken that his son doesn’t want to take over the business, he loves that his granddaughter does, albeit at too young an age to do so. Thus, it is a godsend that Ayyash not only needs the job, but actually grows to love the job and even teaches Nat some new things, improving business and allowing him more time to actually live.
And all of these lessons are dealt through laughter and a few dramatic moments that help tie the funny together. You are never too old to learn new things. You are never too old or young to ask for help. You are never too old to learn from mistakes or take risks. You are never too young to learn a profession that will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life. Fast money is not always the best money. So many lessons wrapped in such a fun film! See Dough now! You won’t be disappointed!