A popular trend that seems to be more commonplace in film today is how filmmakers are adapting their filming techniques to reflect what is happening onscreen through long shots. This can be used to highlight the never-ending magic of nature such as Nomadland or highly stressful scenarios such as Birdman. Boiling Point not only takes its inspiration from the latter but the entire film was shot in one take making it a truly immersive experience for the viewer. Following head chef, Andy (Stephen) during a busy Friday night at his newly opened restaurant, Boiling Point follows the inner workings of the restaurant from the back of the kitchen to front of house and everything in between in a film that will have you on the edge of your seat.
Directed by Philip Barantini who cowrote the script with James Cummings, Boiling Point feels a lot longer than its 90 minute runtime. This is because we are thrust into Andy’s life as he rushes to work. Before we even see any visual, we hear him on the phone to his family to highlight the ongoing nature of the film. In a sense, although Boiling Point highlights the 90 minutes through his shift, the filming technique cleverly interweaves audio at the very start and end of the film to emphasie that we are only getting a glimpse into a snippet of their lives. The direction is sharp and detailed, allowing the camera to naturally weave its way through the restaurant and this fearless approach means that we see everything going on, even if it seems unimportant.
In the lead is Stephen Graham as head chef Andy and as expected, the performance is absolutely exceptional. Adopting his native Scouse accent, Andy is a character crippled by stress and anxiety which is displayed from the very beginning. His inability to juggle his personal and private life leads to situations beyond his control and much like the film’s name, finds himself at a boiling point. Graham has established himself as one of Britain’s finest actors and it is because of his realistic and gritty approach that makes his performances to intense and interesting. Andy is a fully realised character and we can feel the emotional and physical strain he is under in such a short period of time.
Playing fellow chef, Carly, is Vinette Robinson who does a fantastic job opposite Graham. Carly is an employee who thrives at her job and excels and yet is not rewarded for her hard work. Patient and wanting to get the job done, Carly is careful when it comes to picking her fights and stands for no nonsense in the kitchen, even when Andy is distracted. One of the film’s most hard-hitting scenes comes when Carly snaps at the hands of the manager when a complaint comes in that the lamb hasn’t been cooked. What follows is a monologue that is raw while still maintaining a level of control and composure. We can feel Carly’s desire to raise her voice and be more physical with her actions and Robinson’s excellent performance here really allows us to feel that tension in her delivery.
Playing celebrity chef and one of Andy’s friends is Jason Flemyng as Alastair Skye who is visiting the restaurant for the first time. Andy’s credibility as a chef is immediately brought into question when Alastair claims several items on the menu where his ideas rather than Andy’s. This friction between the two characters has its fair share of tension as there seems to be two layers in their friendship. One layer sees them genuinely support each other and want the other to succeed whereas there is another side to their relationship as they are competing against each other to be the better chef. The idea that they seem to be working with and against each other at the same time makes for a complicated relationship that is fantastic to watch onscreen as Graham and Flemyng’s interactions are gripping.
Overall, Boiling Point brings us a fantastic performance from Stephen Graham and manages to keep the audience gripped thanks to its technical intensity. Immersing the audience into its world before we even see an image.
Boiling Point is showing at this year’s London Film Festival!