Film Review: TOAST

Directed by S.J. Clarkson
Written by Lee Hail, based on the memoir by Chef, Nigel Slater’s: Toast: The Story of a Boy’s Hunger
Starring: Oscar Kennedy, Freddie Highmore, Ken Stott, Helena Bonham Carter, Victoria Hamilton

I can almost guarantee that if Helena Bonham Carter did not play a major role in this movie we wouldn’t be seeing it abroad despite its modest charms. Those charms are diluted (thankfully) by the basic unlikability of its major players.

PLOT: Nigel Slater (Oscar Kennedy) has unluckily been born into a household that does not take its food seriously. A typical dinner is tins thrown into a pot of boiling water, which still managed to be burned. Toast is the inevitable climax of this crazy attempt to cook dinner.

Nigel’s mother (Victoria Hamilton) is ill; his father (Stott) regards Nigel warily. Any attempt to improve his mother’s cooking skills meet with little approval. But his mother, suffering from asthma, dies and the two men are alone. Mrs. Potter (Helena Bonham Carter) is hired as a cleaner, a job she takes extremely seriously, much to Nigel’s dismay. He had hoped to cook for his Dad and win his heart. The rest of the film concerns itself mostly with a competition between Nigel and Mrs. Potter to produce the better lemon meringue pie and win the affection of Mr. Slater. Nigel’s burgeoning homosexuality is tastefully explored.

It’s to the film’s great advantage that the expected ending never happens. Nigel is not the lovable boy you expect to find. And Mrs. Potter is quite crazy. This is a small film and unlikely to knock you off your feet. But the Dusty Springfield score and the portrait of middle-class English life is fun. And Helena Bonham Carter plays another in her string of roles that seem to defy the fact that she is a beautiful woman. Cheers to that.

Patti Abbott writes crime fiction short stories. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at She hopes you’ll join in.