Directed by: Triden V Balasingam
Written by: Keith Glover
Starring: Rick Comes, Kannan Imman, Amarya Stenson
Toaster is a 10-minute long piece which scrutinises the consequences of the west’s involvement in the middle east, and the creation of a terrorist on an individual level. It sees a young Muslim man, angry over the hardships wrought upon him by western military action in his own country, moving to Canada to exact his revenge. Procuring the necessary materials and building his homemade bomb (hidden inside a toaster - hence the title), our unnamed man wraps it up like a present and prepares to carry out his mission. But a chance encounter with a man on the subway forces him to reconsider his actions.
The characterisation here is a little bare-bones; the lack of development (at least beyond the lead’s tragic backstory) doesn’t give much room for the actors to really showcase their talents and the narrative dialogue near the beginning of the film is a little overplayed. In fact, dialogue delivery is one of the more significant issues with Toaster—it just feels a little off, tonally. However, the dialogue is well written, and the physical performances are solid. Here, far more is said with a posture or a look; a reaction or the lack thereof.
Toaster obviously has a lot to say on the war on terrorism and, more specifically, the consequences of western military intervention in that part of the world. But there’s also an attempt to probe the effects (psychologically) of loss and grief, and the anger and resentment they can cause. But it’s not wholly successful in this department: it is an emotional film, but it’s not as affecting as it should be.
But what we do find here, is a very visual film – unfortunately, I found the sound design somewhat lacking – with excellent direction (Triden Balasingam) and weighty cinematography (Rankan Ponniah). Ponniah’s framing, in particular, is always on point and (for me at least) carried the majority of the movie’s emotional clout. The CGI, where used, are poor. But Toaster doesn’t demand much of this sort of thing, and so, when visual effects are used, they are used sparingly and, while noticeable, don’t impact massively upon the film.
While Toaster falls short of being the hard-hitting drama it wants to be, there’s still enough reasoned, well-articulated and provocative content here to give most viewers pause for thought. Toaster is available on YouTube, and it’s well worth a look.