Film Review: perfectly encapsulating a restaurant on the point of boiling over…
We’ve all had one of those days at work. You’re running late, everything’s gone wrong and you’ve not even got to work yet, Boiling Point encapsulates that premise.
Add that to the pressure of working in the restaurant industry and it’s peak season, just before Christmas, and the pressure intensifies even more.
Mrs Geeky Brummie & I went to watch Boiling Point at the MAC this weekend. Both of us veterans of the restaurant industry, the film appealed and we were both blown away. We’ve watched a fair few culinary based movies over the years – the joyful Chef from Jon Favreau and the sharp Burnt starring Bradley Cooper spring to mind.
Boiling Point was the most real we’ve felt about watching something with cameras in the kitchen. The uneasy alliance between front of house and back of house, each its own microcosm sharing a restaurant but two separate worlds, speaking the same language but never quite communicating with the other. I don’t think it’s ever been put to film better.
It’s a descent into the madness of a busy night of a restaurant which is overbooked, under-prepped and on the verge of spinning out of control.
We open with an unctuous Health Inspector marking the restaurant down from a 5 to a 3 before head chef Andy (played masterfully by Stephen Graham) has even finished his coffee. From then on, things only just get worse…
We learn that Sous Chef Carly (Vinette Robinson, who won a well deserved best supporting actress BIFA for the role) is the mast to which the back of house has clung to in the storm of Andy’s being physically present but mentally checked out.
Like parents, in control of a group of truculent children, Andy, in the few minutes he’s back in the zone, and the stalwart Carly seem desperate at times. Always trying to balance the scales and keep things running. Whilst the the front of house, every few minutes that pass, adding just a little more weight for them to deal with.
Add in a hapless Maitre’d Emily (played excellently by Alice Feetham) who’s only real skills are social media and being the daughter of Andy’s business partner, and things get more and more fractious as we move on.
It also characterises the customers exceptionally well, obstinate, overreaching and demanding that customer is king. With influencers ordering off menu, allergies missing from bookings, a cheeky group of ladies and an out and out racist for them to contend with.
And if things couldn’t get worse, former mentor and celebrity chef Alistair Skye (smarm master Jason Flemyng) arrives like a shark swimming in the water, waiting for a bite. He just happens to have brought the number one food critic (Lourdes Faberes) along, as he’s here to support Andy’s new venture whilst taking credit for the menu, and in need of something more than a bit of za’tar for his dish.
Could anything make Andy’s evening go worse?
Kudos must be granted to the cinematography and photography, filmed with the third out of four continuous takes being used. The single camera shot never lets up for a moment as we weave our way through the threads and subplots of the myriad of characters across the piece, where even taking out the bins could have been its own episode in a serialised drama.
Writer / Director Philip Barantini seems to have taken every ounce of knowledge from his stints working in kitchens when a jobbing actor and distilled them into this film. With 13 nominations and 4 wins at the British Independent Film Awards, it’s paid off.
If you can survive the pressure watching this, you’ll be rewarded by a diamond of a film.
Gripping just isn’t enough to describe it.
Boiling Point is on at the below cinemas:
Midlands Art Centre (MAC), Edgbaston, Birmingham
Tues 11/01 at 14:30, Weds 12/01 at 20:30, Thu 13/01 at 17:45
The Mockingbird Cinema, Digbeth, Birmingham
Tues 11/01 at 11:00 & 20:30, Weds 12/01 at 12:00 & 17:45, Thu 13/01 at 12:00 & 17:45
The Light Cinema, Walsall
Tues 11/01 at 11:45, 14:00 & 21:00, Weds 12/01 at 11:45, 14:00 & 21:00, Thu 13/01 at 21:00
Mon 17/01, Tue 18/01, Wed 19/01 & Thu 20/01 at 11:30
It can also be rented online (but deserves the big screen):