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A Feast at Midnight Review

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A new student at a British public school forms a secret society centered around cooking and midnight feasting with other school misfits and outcasts.

★★★★★

Situated in the pretty West Country this slight tale of doings at a very minor public school is in the tradition of the old Children’s Film Foundation offerings. The theme is based on food and friendship and it aspires to something like an Eat, Drink, Third Form. But nothing about it suggests it should have been made for the big screen, so modest is its scope.
Lonely little Magnus is the victimised new-boy at Dryden Park prep school, where Hardy is the remotely benevolent headmaster and cold, scary Lee is the housemaster the boys have dubbed “Raptor” for his affinities with Jurassic Park terror. In addition to the assorted self-conscious small boys there is a timid nurse we know will be pretty when she takes her glasses off and an arrogant young cook who dishes up nouvelle nutrition like tofu lasagne.
Guided by droll letters full of advice and recipes from his gourmand father (voiced amusingly by Edward Fox), Magnus slowly draws friends to his side and finds the courage to survive pillow fights by forming a secret club called The Scoffers and introducing the lads to haute cuisine puds in a series of clandestine kitchen raids. Eventually happy bellies make for several radical personality transformations and twee, contrived crisis resolutions.
The film maybe as sweet as Magus’ tarte myrtille, but neither the conflicts nor the japes hold much drama or humour. Lee’s tyrant provides a little spice to the soufflé, but it still doesn’t rise.

Good idea, shoddily realised.