BFI #LFF 2021: BOILING POINT Film Review

Stephen Graham in Boiling Point

Shot in one single, continuous take, Director-Writer Philip Barantini dazzles with his new thriller BOILING POINT.

4 out of 5 stars

Following his award-winning short and feature debut VILLAIN (2020), actor-turned-director Philip Barantini dazzles with his new thriller BOILING POINT, which screens at this year’s BFI London Film Festival.

Taking place across an incredibly hectic evening at a top London restaurant, BOILING POINT follows Andy (Stephen Graham), an emotionally damaged and drug-addicted head chef who’s taken his personal problems into the workplace.

Late for work, stinking of booze and struggling with his personal life, Andy’s day goes from bad to worse acrimonious staff, demanding customers and a visit from an old adversary, add to Andy’s increasing stress levels, as life begins to weigh down on him.

Stephen Graham in Boiling Point

Fast-paced, frenetic, and viscerally intense, BOILING POINT is 92 minutes thriller of pure adrenaline. Opting to capture everything in one continuous take, Director Barantini infuses the film with a rawness and authenticity rarely seen on-screen, Matthew Lewis’ jittery camerawork stalking and swirling through the restaurant constantly circling around the action to soaks up the atmosphere of this pressure-cooker thriller.

Barantini and co-writer James Cummings’ excellent script ensures the film never loses its relentless momentum, peppering moments of quiet ambience alongside intense shouting matches and a fair amount of humour.

Outside of the main story, minor, nuanced subplots simmer away in the background and are just as impactful as the larger, fierier plot points, adding to the growing intensity of the piece.

As expected, Stephen Graham is electrifying in the lead role of Andy, showcasing his broad acting range as he makes his way through a multitude of emotions. Whether barking orders at staff or just silently reacting to the flurry of activity around him, Graham delivers a powerhouse performance complemented by the talented ensemble cast.

Vinette Robinson and Stephen Graham in Boiling Point

Vinette Robinson turns in an excellent portrayal as Andy’s loyal but exasperated sous chef Carly, her understated performance culminating in a brilliantly delivered rant as the kitchen’s conflict with maitre d’ Beth (Alice May Feetham) inevitably comes to a head.

Elsewhere, Jason Flemyng captures the well-written arrogance of celebrity chef Alastair Skye with his smarmy smiles and dramatic gestures, delivering some of the film’s most humorous moments.

Thomas Coombes’ cameo as the aptly named Mr Lovejoy also makes for some light comic relief.

Inevitably, with so many characters in play, BOILING POINT lacks some characterisation, sweeping over deeper issues of suicide, mental health, racism and addiction. At times, it raises more questions than answers, as it offers us just a glimpse at the lives of the staff behind and in front of the kitchen.

That said, this never detracts from the overall atmosphere of the piece, and for the most part, BOILING POINT succeeds as a searing on-screen drama. Just remember to breathe as you watch it!

BOILING POINT screens at the BFI London Film Festival on 11 October 2021.