toastfilm.jpg
That first "F" in SIFF stands for film, not food, but there's plenty of onscreen eating at the festival to entertain the culinary-minded moviegoer. As

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SIFF for the Food-Minded Set: Toast

toastfilm.jpg
That first "F" in SIFF stands for film, not food, but there's plenty of onscreen eating at the festival to entertain the culinary-minded moviegoer. As a supplement to Seattle Weekly's coverage of the Seattle International Film Festival, Voracious will highlight the program's films of particular interest to those viewers who spend more time in dining rooms than screening rooms.

Food lovers who read chef Nigel Slater's memoir Toast have a clear picture of the Midlands scamp at its center--a visualization aided by the book's cover photo of a young and adorable Slater.

The film adaptation of Toast, starring Oscar Kennedy as Slater and Helena Bonham Carter as the short-skirted house cleaner who becomes his stepmother, stays true to the picture and the book it fronts. The crisp movie bristles with working-class dreariness.

The shelves in Slater's childhood kitchen are lined with depressing tins of beef and kidney pies, although the boy and his father take up a toast diet after Slater's mother dies. The situation improves little with the arrival of the house cleaner, who's perpetually nasty to Slater.

But the story winds to an uplifting conclusion that's struck some critics as too pat. As a teenager, Slater enrolls in a home-economics course, which sparks a series of household cooking duels with his stepmother. Slater eventually lands a job in a professional kitchen, and seems to come to terms with his sexuality on nearly the same day.

"On paper, it all looks like a tidy happy ending, but there's something about fictional Nigel's hatred of his stepmother that leaves a bad taste in the mouth," Variety's Leslie Felperin writes.

Still, the film charmed the UK when it premiered last year on BBC1. More than six million viewers--or 10 percent of the nation's population--tuned in for Toast.

"The film is beautifully done--poignant and sad, but with lightness and humour," Sam Wollaston wrote in The Guardian. "There are fine performances, from Ken Stott as Nigel's middle-class, middle-management, middle England, middle everything father; and by Oscar Kennedy and Freddie Highmore as young Nigel and slightly less young Nigel. And especially from Helena Bonham Carter as the new woman."

Toast, Saturday, 6:30 p.m.; Sunday, 11a.m., Neptune

Follow Voracious on Facebook & Twitter. Follow me at @hannaraskin

 
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