Film Review: Boiling Point (2021)

Filmed brilliantly in a single take, restaurant drama Boiling Point features a breathlessly fantastic performance from Stephen Graham

“Not everything has to have a rubble of nuts”

There’s a growing sense of tension throughout Boiling Point that is just like the suffocating, slow build of a panic attack. It is almost uncomfortable, unbearable at times like a slow-motion car crash that you can’t quite look away from. Which might not sound like a recommendation I know but it really is, as the film simulates a shift from hell for head chef Andy Jones.

It’s the Friday-before-Christmas and he’s already up against it before he arrives late to his Dalston restaurant due to serious domestic troubles. Once there, he finds a food hygiene inspector finding too many faults and a subsequent staff meeting does little to soothe his increasingly disgruntled crew. And that’s before any customers have even arrived and service begun.

Boiling Point’s masterstroke is to tell the story of this shift in a single take, one uncut shot (peerless work from DP Matthew Lewsi) which woozily takes us from kitchen to dining room to bar, even to the bins out back. And though the focus is on Stephen Graham’s brilliant portrayal of Andy, we dip into little hints of everyone’s story – the bolshy maître d’, the troubled sous chef and best of all, Vinette Robinson’s second-in-command Carly.

Barantini and co-writer James Cummings sketch an effective web of sub-plots out in the dining room too. Tables are filled with insta-twats, racists, hen parties, former colleagues and restaurant critics (great work from Jason Flemyng), plus a couple with a nut allergy… All of which serve to raise the temperature and stress level but with a note of dark humour throughout, sprinkled like the requested za’atar.

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