Butch & Sundance


Stars: Jonathan Pryce, Jerome Holder, Natasha Gordon, Pauline Collins, Andrew Ellis, Malachi Kirby, Phil Davis and Ian Hart
Director: John Goldschmidt
Scriptwriters: Jonathan Benson and Jaz Freedman
Composer: Lorne Balfe
Menemsha Films
Rating: PG 13 with themed material
Running Length: 95 minutes

I left this film wanting to go to the nearest bakery and purchase bread. Making challah bread is shown here, and later you see rows of pastries, but ingredients are another thing, as you see in the story. “Dough” concerns the grieving process, decisions to make when a refugee and dealing with real estate developers. Jonathan Pryce (a favorite James Bond villain from "Tomorrow Never Dies") is Nat Dayan, who owns Dayan & Son Bakery, and tries to make a go of it in a declinig neighborhood. Nat is a member of the Jewish faith and his customers are of the Jewish faith, also, and into this familiar terriroty come members of another religion.

The film begins with the ritual of getting up in the morning and then going to work at 4 a.m. Nat (Pryce) is the sole owner of Dayan & Son Bakery, and he is the son. No one in his family wants to continue the business. Nat’s son is a lawyer and the only person who believes in Nat is his granddaughter. We see Nat making challah bread and bagels, and then tending to his customers with the help of an assistant baker and a cleaner, Safa (Natasha Gordon), who is from Dakar. The scene shifts to Safa’s son, Ayyash, a teenager who can’t get a job because he is considered African. They want to move to a better apartment without a leaking roof. Ayyash and Nat meet when the assistant baker quits for a better job, and Safa is desperate to keep Ayyash off the streets. Nothing quite goes right in the bakery until Ayyash comes up with the idea of selling pot in the bakery---and then in the baked goods. Soon, the business is popular, money is flowing in and no one is the wiser. Ha. Secrets come out, Nat, a widowerer, is being pursued by a lonely widow, Joanna (Pauline Collins), and someone (Ian Hart from the television series "Vinyl") is on the trail of Ayyash. In the meantime, somehow, the business continues.

“Dough,” which can have a double meaning here from the dough for the baked goods and dough from selling the product. Though Nat is a member of the Jewish faith, he may not always be as kosher as can be. Ayyesh, on the other hand, is of the Muslim faith and prays five times a day--in the back room so no one can see him. Members of both religions are distrustful of each other, but have to learn to get along. The give-and-take here is well presented by Pryce and Holder going back-and-forth in their thorny relationship. Pauline Collins is the widow with eyes on Nat and she has a secret weapon. The developer with greedy aspirations (Phil Davis who plays Jud in the PBS series "Poldark") looks like a younger version of Gary Busey when he would plan a nefarious deed. There is plenty of eye rolling here, plus mentioning old movies, which is one of Nat’s loves. It’s nice to see Jonathan Pryce go from villainous roles to humor.

“Dough” is a little gem in this year’s independent films. The violence involved in dealing with the streets is downplayed for the camaraderie of friends, who may mean well, but sometimes go in the wrong direction. As for grieving, just how long do you grieve for a loved one? One person says “Six weeks is plenty,” while another is sliding into the third year. Sometimes it just takes the right ingredients of friendship to get the ball rolling again.

Copyright 2016 Marie Asner