London Film Festival: Boiling Point (2021)

Director: Philip Barantini

Running Time: 92 Minutes

Certification: 15

Starring: Stephen Graham, Vinette Robinson, Alice Feetham, Hannah Walters, Malachi Kirby, Jason Flemyng, Izuka Hoyle, Taz Skylar, Lauryn Ajufo

Expanding his award-winning short of the same name, co-writer/director Philip Barantini follows head-chef Andy (Stephen Graham) over one evening at his top London restaurant. Beginning with a health-inspector's visit resulting in the restaurants rating severely dropping, that's just the start of the stress these employees will face.

Between the film appearing as a single-take and the double-meaning title, viewers are made to feel how high-pressure this environment is. The stress piling on top of the employees is felt, as they contend with discourteous customers, low stock levels, and the manager giving into the mentality of "the customer is always right". The excellent choreography and pacing capture how busy and thinly stretched these workers are, while serving influencers demanding to speak to the manager, a family led by a rude patriarch, and Andy's old boss who's invited a prominent food critic to join him.

Anchoring the tale is Andy, the emotionally-damaged chef tremendously portrayed by Stephen Graham. While juggling the work-place pressures and missing calls to speak to his son, he takes issues out on the staff and grapples with addiction. Whenever he's seen drinking from his water bottle, there's no doubt its contents aren't water. Adding to the strain is the outstanding money he owes a friend, although this feels like an unnecessary detour added on-top of everything else.

As the camera follows each of the characters, viewers are granted glimpses into their lives as they try to keep their heads above water. These small glances say so much and allow viewers to care for the characters, be it somebody breaking down in the bathroom or the outcome of a young chef's dessert. What Barantini has crafted is a simple idea told immaculately, superbly using the conceit in thrilling ways. Like a fine meal, this is a sumptuously crafted piece which deserves to be savoured.

Boiling Point played at London Film Festival, and is available in UK cinemas from December 3rd