Philip Barantini’s one take film Boiling Point is as tension-filled a drama as you will find. A bold piece of filmmaking assisted with unbelievable performances from Stephen Graham and Vinette Robinson. Make no mistake, this is an incredibly gripping watch.
Andy (Stephen Graham), an emotionally damaged and drug-addicted chef, must cope with a crazily busy night in his top London restaurant. He has to deal with acrimonious staff, difficult customers, an old adversary, and the pressures of keeping a frenetic kitchen and busy restaurant floor going.
The decision to have Boiling Point as a one-take piece is interesting, and it helps the viewer see the organised chaos that is a kitchen of a busy restaurant. No number of Gordon Ramsey’s Nightmare Kitchens can prepare you for just how manic this type of workplace is every night. Never mind the fact that the head chef is battling his demons; working in a restaurant kitchen at times can be a complicated equation that is impossible to complete. Each person needs to be at their best and most efficient to get orders through in time.
Cinematographer Matthew Lewis does some inspiring work here to capture the frenetic energy that a kitchen has. As events begin to take their toll on the staff, you are almost begging him and Barantini to cut away, to not only give us a minute to catch ourselves but for this poor crew. Everyone is stretched to their limits, and the camera work’s unrelenting nature accentuates that beautifully as the audience’s anxiety rises more and more as the film goes on.
With the camera never really settling down and constantly on the move, the 92-minute runtime of Boiling Point breezes by. Though, there is cause for it even being a touch shorter as despite it being a terrific film, it does lag every so often when the story stretches itself into the melodrama. However, thanks to the claustrophobic nature of us going through the restaurant, you don’t really mind these moments, and this is, of course, helped further by the entire ensemble being perfectly cast.
Plaudits will rightfully come Stephen Graham’s way for this performance as a man who is just losing control of everything all in quick succession. You don’t want to like Andy due to his never-ending spiral, but you do pity him. He is as lost as they come, unable to find a way to dig himself out of the hole that admittedly he has dug himself. But you do wish for him to steady himself and get through it, even if you do not agree with him. It is a complicated character to get right, and he does so impressively well.
With that said, as good as Graham is here and he really is terrific, the possible standout of the film is Vinette Robinson as Andy’s ever-present sous-chef, Carly. She is a wonderful anchor to proceedings and keeps Andy and us as grounded as possible despite the ever-increasing mayhem. As said though the entire cast is perfect here.
Boiling Point strikes more because this is an environment that could be set anywhere, in a restaurant, an office, or a shop. Someone like Andy, who is as skilled as they come in their role, have to focus on other things, man management, paperwork, things that take them away from what they love, and you sense that throughout. Andy loves his profession, loves cooking and teaching others how to improve their skills. He just can’t be doing with all the faff surrounding it, the customers, the politics etc. If he could just cook with no one bothering him, he would probably be as healthy as any person on Earth. But he doesn’t have that luxury, and that is one of the most relatable things about his character and the entire film.
The one-take nature of Boiling Point doesn’t distract us and is, in fact, an inspired choice for a film that excels on every level to bring us an exceptional movie.
For more coverage of the 2021 London Film Festival, have a look below!
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