Boiling Point is a one-shot culinary drama centring around the evening service in a busy restaurant in the run-up to Christmas. Now available and starring the ever-brilliant Stephen Graham, it brings a not often seen side of restaurants to the forefront and while this is definitely interesting with some great performances, it ultimately ended up feeling like a higher-end version of a cooking reality show.
Set in London, Stephen Graham stars as Andy Jones, a head chef hurrying to the evening shift at work. He’s on the phone, engaging in a conversation that hints at a troubled and collapsing family life. When he eventually arrives at work late, team leader Carly (Vinette Robinson) is taking charge alongside colleague Freeman (Ray Panthaki), as they try to please a pedantic environmental health officer who is attempting to undertake an inspection prior to evening service.
After discovering the less than impressive results of the environmental health inspection, Andy takes his frustrations out on his staff, despite the fact that the unimpressive result was mostly due to his inability to keep up with the paperwork. As service nears, Andy must also deal with Beth (Alice Feetham), the maître’d who only cares about money, Carly’s demands for wage increases and the revelation that a celebrity chef, Alastair Skye (Jason Flemyng), with whom Andy has a past, is visiting the restaurant that evening.
It’s no easier for his staff, who have to cope with racist customers, social media influencers demanding off-menu food and a young couple with a nut allergy hoping to be celebrating an engagement later that night. As the night runs on, it becomes incredibly difficult for both staff and customers alike, and the stress becomes too much to bear for Andy.
Utilising the one-shot approach for a drama like this is a great idea. Set in one location, it moves from staff to customer and back seamlessly and it works really well. There are some shots that may not be entirely necessary from a plot point of view, like following the useless busboy outside as he empties the bins, but the style as a whole is incredibly well done. There are also some fantastic performances here, from Jason Flemyng’s smarmy celebrity chef to Vinette Robinson’s frustrated and overworked Carly. And of course, Stephen Graham steals the show as he does in everything with his brilliant, calm performance of the head chef whose life is spiralling out of control.
The problem with this film for me was the plot. As a film set around a busy restaurant evening service, it was interesting and entertaining, but it just felt like a well-dramatized version of what you’d see on the latest reality tv show. Maybe I’ve just seen too many cookery shows of late but it just felt like a strange choice for what is trying to be a tense thriller. The plot also loses focus when it tries to give time to each character and member of the staff in the restaurant, dilating a story that really should have been focusing on Andy. And I took issue with the whole allergy side of the story too as it was so predictable you could see it coming from the very start.
Boiling Point is a great film to showcase the talents of both the cast and the filmmakers, with a one-shot production that works incredibly well. It’s just a shame the reality tv-style plot lets it down.
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A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!