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Boiling Point Review

Chef, Ratatouille, Pig and now Boiling Point – more and more culinary-based films are lifting the lid on the often unseen team who’s dedicated graft and hard work goes into preparing our dishes day-in, day-out. For anyone who’s worked in the hospitality sector (and similarly retail) this impressively immersive and often intense 92-minutes feels like an anxiety inducing, but hugely relatable, look behind the scenes at the dining experience.

Directed by Philip Barantini, Boiling Point follows head chef Andy Jones (Stephen Graham) as he attempts to manage the kitchen during a hugely busy (and particularly chaotic) evening sitting at popular Dalston-based fine dining restaurant Jones & Sons. Amidst the growing catastrophes with demanding and rude customers, issues with food orders and numerous unexpected visits noteworthy diners, Andy is grappling with his own personal issues, pushing him further and further to the brink.

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In this intimate and oppressively claustrophobic character-driven drama, tensions steadily build as the team of chefs find themselves in constant hot water. Opening with a surprise visit from a health and safety inspector, who subsequently drops the venue’s rating from a five to a three due to issues with paper work, the kitchen and front of house team constantly face a barrage of growing complications. Much like the title, emotions run high and tempers sizzles, with multiple subplots involving the various staff cleverly interwoven throughout the main unfolding narrative. With the camera and pacing constantly on the move, there’s never a dull moment, particularly with the any gripping interactions featuring biting commentary on ‘influencer’ culture and critics.

Stephen Graham is as captivating as ever as the head chef teetering on the brink. Following Andy’s introduction – apologising for neglecting his son on a phone call – Graham brings an almost glazed over expression and reserved nature to the character, as his head really isn’t in the game. As the night goes from bad to worse and certain mistakes and debts transpire, Graham impressively evolves from vacant to positively explosive, lashing out like a cornered animal.

Vinette Robinson also shines as Andy’s talented sous-chef Carly, who’s torn between protecting her friend/boss while wanting to understandably progress her own career, as she’s constantly expected to step up in his absence. The talented ensemble cast also includes a strong turn from Ray Panthaki as a frustrated and combustible station chef, along with Jason Flemyng’s take on a pretentious chef turned TV star.

Incredibly captured in a single, 90-minute take, the film is a technical tour de force. Cinematographer Matthew Lewis weaves the camera effortlessly around the various tables and conversations, following the waiters from the calm setting of the restaurant, back to the commotion and hustle of the kitchen and bar settings. We’re fully immersed in the oppressively hot and claustrophobic atmosphere, watching on almost voyeuristically amongst the unravelling carnage and calamity.

Verdict

Boiling Point proves a tense and utterly immersive experience, with director Philip Barantini imparting a fascinating glimpse into a fine dining restaurant kitchen in this brilliant British drama. Despite the predictable Chekhov’s gun allergy and a somewhat unsatisfying climax for the head chef, this is a truly engrossing culinary-themed flick.

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