At The Movies: Boiling Point lifts the lid on a pressure-cooker restaurant kitchen

Boiling Point stars Vinette Robinson (left) and Stephen Graham. PHOTO: SHAW ORGANISATION

Boiling Point (M18)

95 minutes, opens May 19

4 stars

The story: This workplace drama, filmed in one continuous take, covers one hectic night at an upscale London restaurant.

Head chef and part-owner Andy (Stephen Graham) has a lot on his hands dealing with demanding customers, a hygiene inspector and no-shows in his kitchen crew, but is pushed close to the edge when a restaurant critic walks in, accompanied by his former boss Alastair (Jason Flemyng), with whom he shares a complicated history.

Boiling Point received four British Academy Film Awards nominations, including for Outstanding British Film and Best Actor (for Graham), but it did not win any prizes.

Here are three reasons to watch the film.

Unrelenting tension

Director Philip Barantini paces this like a thriller. His camera floats from the dining room to the kitchen and the alleys behind it, immersing the viewer in the stream of incoming orders, hot grills and even hotter tempers.

There is a cliche about swearing chefs and rank abuse in the kitchen, but the screenplay asks the smarter question: How much of the chaos can be blamed on dysfunctional restaurant culture, and how much of it is Andy's fault?

A cast that looks the part

Nobody here looks like an actor trying to be a dishwasher, waiter or cook. Everyone disappears into their roles.

Standouts include Vinette Robinson, playing the ultra-competent sous chef Carly, a woman whose loyalty to Andy has been sorely tested.

There is no food porn or technique on display and this is not a feel-good homily about the healing power of food; this is a study of people in the trenches.

You end up caring about these adrenaline junkies, hooked on stress and sending out the perfect roast lamb.

Boiling Point starring (from left) Vinette Robinson, Ray Panthaki and Stephen Graham. PHOTO: SHAW ORGANISATION

It's a new dish

There are one-take movies which look as if they were filmed in a single continuous shot, such as WWI drama 1917 (2019).

There are realistic workplace dramas that expose the inner workings of an institution, such as Margin Call (2011), set in an investment bank.

Boiling Point combines the two kinds of movie into a whole that feels fresh and exciting.

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