A round of British
Nigel Slater, Britain’s beloved cookbook author and food journalist, means very little to people not born and bred on the island, but that might very well work as an advantage in this biopic of his boyhood to teenage years. It means that you don’t obsess about watching for clues about his later life and career in everything that’s shown. And there’s plenty that’s being shown, including a recreation of England in the 1960s and 1970s that aptly toes the line between realism and nostalgia.
Contrary to what many people might expect, it’s not a damnation of British cooking, because it looks at food not from the chef’s point of view, but from the point of view of people eating. Mom’s warmed-up tins might be hideous, but her buttery, crusty toast is pure heaven. Dad’s second wife might be a witch, but she does make a damn-fine lemon meringue pie.
The other part of Toast is that mix between real characters, a human story and a little exaggeration that British films manage so well. Young Nigel and his best friend’s precocious conversations about pregnancy and parental relations in general are not realistic, but they are very endearing.
Toast may not offer profound insights on life, but wonderful colors, a well-timed pace and the solid performances of Bonham Carter and Ken Stott as Nigel Slater’s dad make this a wonderful film.
Toast | Directed by S.J. Clarkson (UK 2011) with Helena Bonham Carter, Freddie Highmore. Opens August 11