Nat Dayan (Jonathan Pryce) owns a Kosher bakery shop in London. He hires Ayyash (Jerome Holder), an immigrant from Africa, to work at his shop. Little does he know that Ayyash is involved with a drug dealer, Victor (Ian Hart), and that the reason his bakery business suddenly booms has a lot to do with Ayyash secretly pouring weed into the flour before it turns into baked goods. A greedy real estate mogul, Sam Cotton (Phillip Davis), wants to buy out Nat's bakery. Meanwhile, Joanna (Pauline Collins), Nat's landlord, flirts with Nat.
Dough follows a standard formula that makes the plot's trajectory easy to predict, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable. Jonathan Pryce, as usual, gives a solid performance and provides the film with plenty of charisma. The same can be said about Jerome Holder and Pauline Collins (remember her from the hysterically funny romcom Shirley Valentine?). Director John Goldschmidt moves the film along at a brisk pace while screenwriters Jonathan Benson and Jez Freedman do a decent job of building the dynamics (including the tension) between Nat and Ayyash believably. Both characerts feel like living, breathing human beings, and the way that they become friends is quite moving. Where the film loses a bit of its oomph, though, is its comedic attempts that fall flat more often than not, and when it comes to the "villains", Sam and Victor, because they're a bit too cartoonish and one-dimensional. A few contrived turns of events transpire in the third act, and plot strands are tied rather neatly, Hollywood-style. Those are forgivable flaws, though. Sure, you can see the ending from a mile away, but, much like the film itself, it's harmless, uplifting and heartwarming without being cloying like the dreadful Hollywood dramedy Mother's Day.
Finding Mr. Right 2
Boryana (Irmena Chichikova) lives in Bulgaria with her husband, Ivan (Dimo Divov), and mother, Dima (Mariana Krumova). She desperately wants to move to America after being brainwashed by consumer ads related to America in magazines. Her dreams of emigrated overseas get thwarted when she ends up giving birth to her daughter, Viktoria (Daria and Kalina Vitkova), who's born with a belly button. Viktoria gets chosen as the "Socialist Bulgaria Baby of the Decade" thereby allowing her and her family to have a new apartment and even limo service. When she grows up, she befriends a Communist Party leader, Todor Zhivkov (Georgi Spasov). Boryana remains emotionally distant with Viktoria even as Communism begins to fall.
The screenplay by Maya Vitkova has an poignant narrative with a unique blend of drama and dry, absurd comedy, but it spreads itself a bit too thinly throughout the course of 2 hours and 35 minutes (nearly as long as Boyhood!). Fundamentally, though, it's about the relationship between a daughter and her mother which remains heartfelt. The pace moves rather sluggishly which makes many scenes, especially during the second act, drag. Vitkova does do a great job of establishing atmosphere through lighting, camera angles and overal visual composition. Even when you might find yourself bored by the lack of narrative momentum, you'll be mesmerized by the striking cinematography. Exquisite visuals, though, can only go so far when it comes to turning style into substance or entertainment for that matter: there are diminish returns when it comes to being captivated by the aesthetics of a film alone.
Parts of Viktoria are beautiful while others are ugly; this is one of those films that describing wouldn't do it any justice nor would it be easy to put it into a particular genre box. A far more brilliant film about a dysfunctional family that combined beauty and ugliness with visual pizazz is Léolo, although that film took more risks and had much more comedy, but at least it didn't overstay its welcome like Viktoria does.