Movie #43 2022: Boiling Point (2021)

I love a film that tries something different and creative. Although there’s a lot to celebrate within the filmmaking industry as a whole, sometimes the money-making side of things gets in the way and films that deserve to be made just don’t receive the funding. That’s why it’s always nice to see smaller, independent movies like this one actually coming to screens, and with its four BAFTA nominations this year, I’d say it’s done pretty well for itself.

Boiling Point tells a pretty simple tale, and it is told in real time using only one continuous shot on a singular camera. It puts the audience right in the middle of a busy restaurant, where a head chef (Stephen Graham) is forced to balance multiple personal crises with ongoing professional mishaps in front of our very eyes. Safe to say, if you’ve never worked in a restaurant or kitchen before, you may be surprised by how high pressure everything is.

Alright, Stephen Graham. I get it. You’re a very, very good actor. I need no more proof. (But please do continue.)

In all honesty, I was expecting a lot from this. As the manager of a bar/restaurant, I was interested to see what Philip Barantini would get right, and I’ll admit that he did capture some of the chaotic nature that inevitably comes with this type of environment. Unfortunately though, it didn’t keep up the consistent pressurised feeling of a kitchen in my opinion. If you felt an unbearable anxiety watching this, I can assure you it’s much worse in real life. Therefore, I feel as though I am a little biased in this instance, because it was hard for me to feel such anxious feelings with this one since I live it daily… but anyhow, let’s carry on.

What really impresses here despite my personal biases is the filmmaking itself. Shot all in one take, there’s a heck of a lot of planning and choreography on show here. So much so, in fact, that it almost feels like a stage play but with a more up-close, intimate feel. I actually read that they shot the entire thing four times, which is a huge amount of work, and it mostly paid off from a technical standpoint. Props were reportedly cleverly hidden out of sight too, then brought into view when the lone camera was looking away. Just a remarkable effort from those both in front of and behind the camera.

Again, Graham is wonderful – clearly the star of the whole thing. I do want to praise Vinette Robinson (Black Mirror, Doctor Who) though, who is slowly but surely churning out some very good performances. She is absolutely the most relatable of the bunch here and I’m interested to see where she goes next. 

Despite some shining examples of great filmmaking and some very good performances, I just wanted more out of this one. Personally, I felt like the ending was a bit of a cop out, but the pacing and subject matter were both great. A mixed bag of emotions with this film on the whole, but it’s really clear why so many found it so compelling.

Boiling Point is available to stream on Netflix in the UK.

TQR Category Ratings:

Costume & Set Design: 
Overall Enjoyability Rating: ½

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