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Dough review: Dir: John Goldschmidt (2017)

Dough review, Andrew Gaudion.

The concept at the heart of John Goldschmidt’s good-natured comedy drama is one that sounds just a tiny bit ridiculous, and a little too on the nose to set up a film involving many cultural clashes. It is a film that hardly plays it subtle, and it is hardly the finest piece of filmmaking you’re likely to see this year, but there is no denying that it has something akin to charm at the centre of its over baked loaf.

Dough review

Dough review

A young African Muslim, Ayyash (Jerome Holder), has fallen in to working for hardened dealer Victor (Ian Hart). Ayyash’s mother finds him more straight-and-narrow work as an apprentice at the struggling bakery which she cleans, run by old Jewish baker Nat (Johnathan Pryce). When some of the weed that Ayyash is carrying for Victor accidentally falls into the dough mix, the failing bakery experiences an unprecedented rise in sales.

There is a fun stoner comedy waiting to emerge from the flour and eggs within, but from the very off it is very clear that Goldschmidt isn’t too interested in that brand of comedy. Instead we have a visually un-ambitious slice of life approach that aims to ground this film in a modern East London context. It allows for its approach to culture and race to carry more weight, but also means it that when some of the broader jokes come into play the film becomes quite tone death.

Dough is clearly striving for the sort of film that Stephen Fears delivered in the 80’s, with My Beautiful Laundrette particularly coming to mind as a point of reference. The story itself and the script can’t hope to reach that calibre as for very well-observed comment or one-liner, there’s a line that is just far too on the nose or a joke that just falls too flat for the film to stand as anything all that sophisticated. It also doesn’t help that the image often looks too uninteresting, with Goldschmidt’s TV-movie background becoming all too apparent.

Dough review

Dough review

The cast for the most part is very engaged with the material, with Pryce in particularly standing out as the curmudgeonly baker, even if the material he is working with is often as light and feathery as filo pastry. He strikes a strong chord with the young Holder, who only really engages when he’s on screen with Pryce. Hart as the dealer and Phil Davis as the generic capitalist figure looking to crush small local businesses ham it up to high heaven and often make the film fall more into two-dimensional territory.

Ultimately, Dough feels too amateur to resonate as the touching cultural clash comedy that it quite clearly wants to be. It is well-intentioned and occasionally has the odd moment of inspired wit, but it isn’t enough, as the dough in this mix too often fails to rise to the occasion, even if it does a warm touch.

Dough review by Andrew Gaudion, May 2017.

Dough is released in UK cinemas on Friday 2nd June 2017.


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