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by Esther Cohen
I ACTUALLY didn’t think I would like Dough, a British movie directed by John Goldschmidt and starring Jonathan Pryce, which is opening around the country on April 29th. It’s full of clichés, yet in the end I enjoyed watching. Even though viewers could predict what would happen, almost completely, the movie was more than pleasant to watch.
Here’s the story: Nat (Pryce) is a third-generation Orthodox baker, a widower, living in a changing neighborhood. The bakery is in a complete time warp. (I went to a place nearly identical, on the Lower East Side, many years ago: onion rolls, challah, small, familiar cookies...) Nat’s son, a well-educated Oxford lawyer, is condescending and disdainful. His father isn’t part of the modern world, and the bakery hasn’t been modernized in many, many years. Nat, meanwhile, is disappointed that his son is not a baker and is a more conventional family man.
We don’t know much about the rest of Nat’s life, only that he is tired, dispirited, doesn’t want to retire, doesn’t want to give up. His assistant quits, and Nat ends up hiring his Rwandan shop cleaner’s son, a young religious Moslem marijuana dealer named Shaun. Shaun and his mother live in an unbearable project, a place with leaking pipes, a falling ceiling, and much danger. Shaun wants to do anything at all to make enough money to leave. His mother, exhausted, works two menial jobs to buy them food and pay for their unfortunate apartment.
Although the viewer knows that the religious Jew and the religious Moslem, old and young, will change one another’s lives (of course for the better), watching is fun. Hash challahs, high shabbes meals, even a marijuana mahjong game reinvigorate the Old Kosher Bakery, and Shaun’s ideas (cupcakes! birthday cakes!) turn the business around.
Nat even has a love interest, an Orthodox widow who likes cakes and dancing and Nat.
Sometimes it’s a good idea to watch a movie where all the characters, in the end, actually have a good time.
Esther Cohen, our arts and events consultant, knows how to have a good time.