British film ‘Dough’ is a funny confection of tolerance

Jonathan Pryce and Jerome Holder star in ‘Dough,’ a warm comedy about overcoming prejudices, set in a British kosher bakery. 

By Cate Marquis, Special to the Jewish Light

The long-established Dayan and Son Bakery sits in a London neighborhood that some describe as “changing” although, in truth, it already has changed. Graffiti dot the walls, raucous clubs play dance beats and jobs are few. Marijuana dealers such as Victor Gerrard (Ian Hart) look to recruit the neighborhood’s young, poor, immigrant residents. One of them is Ash (Jerome Holder), a refugee from Darfur. 

The kosher bakery and its older, observant Jewish owner, Nat Dayan (Jonathan Pryce), are among the few holdouts from the neighborhood’s better days as a mostly Jewish area, and Nat bitterly resents the mess and decay that overwhelm the street. His bakery still has neat white curtains and lacy paper liners for the little woven baskets in orderly rows that fill his shop. Its tidiness seems untouched by time, as it caters to a clientele that is either moving away or dying.

When Nat loses his apprentice baker, he is shaken. He cannot run the place by himself, and his lawyer son isn’t interested. More tsuris looms as Nat’s recently widowed landlord  (Pauline Collins) feels pressure to sell the property to a neighboring grocer (Philip Davis). 

Desperate to keep his business going, Nat takes on Ash, the son of his cleaning woman, without realizing the two are Muslim. At first, Ash balks at working for a Jew and spouts anti-Semitic myths, which earns him a smack on his head and a “stupid boy” from mom. He needs the job — and he needs to get over his prejudice. 


On the other hand, Nat’s customers are none too keen on a new African assistant rumored to be a Muslim. The barrier of bigotry works both ways. 

So go the days, with Ash assisting at the bakery while selling pot on the side. But when some of his stash falls into the challah dough, business suddenly picks up and an unlikely friendship starts to cook between the old Jewish baker and his young Muslim apprentice. 

Part of the storyline of this gently comic film may be familiar, but the film’s charm and humor come from the performances and its basic human warmth. 

Pryce, a respected British actor familiar to many from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, shines as Nat, who starts out as a lovable curmudgeon, a widower in a rut, but whose character deepens as he evolves. Nat’s stubbornness about saving the bakery despite what everyone is telling him becomes an asset when Ash brings some unexpected innovations — and not just the pot accident. Teamwork matters in this story of second chances and overcoming expectations. 

“Dough” is a funny, sweet-hearted movie with an underlying message about the benefits of cooperation and tolerance over prejudice. It’s the kind of film audiences will likely eat up.


WHEN:  8 p.m. Tuesday, June 9, at at Plaza Frontenac Cinema