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  Boiling Point Making A Meal Of It
Year: 2021
Director: Philip Barantini
Stars: Stephen Graham, Vinette Robinson, Alice Feetham, Jason Flemyng, Hannah Walters, Malachi Kirby, Izuka Hoyle, Taz Skylar, Lauryn Afujo, Ray Panthaki, Lourdes Fabares, Daniel Larkai, Robbie O'Neill, Aine Rose Daly, Rosa Escoda, Stephen McMillan
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Andy Jones (Stephen Graham) is a chef who has served his apprenticeship under a popular celebrity, Alastair Skye (Jason Flemyng), but has since found the confidence to branch out on his own and set up a restaurant that is doing very well, in fact it is often overbooked. But this success is coming at a cost: his home life is suffering, and he has neglected his son, as meanwhile at work the pressure of sustaining his establishment's high quality has resulted in the health inspector arriving tonight and while friendly, he is not about to allow any slip to evade his attention. The bad news is, for food safety the restaurant will now be downgraded...

With the rise of digital technology, the one-take movie also saw its stock rise, and while there were those which applied various tricks of editing to make it look as if the action was occurring in real time, films that actually did stage their stories in a single, continuous shot were rarer. Boiling Point was one such effort, its low budget offset by a set of innovations that sustained its ingenuity, and while you began to notice some of its tricks, such as giving its cast a break in the ninety minutes to set up their next sequence by following a different character for a minute or two, the nuts and bolts of its mechanisms were commendably invisible.

Fair enough, it was one damn thing after another as far as the plot went, and our focus on Graham was allowed to wane a shade too often, likely by necessity when it came to keeping all those plates spinning, but if you liked a film that felt like a genuine achievement, be that in acting or effects or whatever might catch your eye, the acting here was very good indeed, and the concentration that had gone in to pursuing its goal never became exhausting for the audience. Tense, yes, but you would not feel the fatigue that Andy endures as events not so much fall into place but fall apart with a looming disaster easy to spot, though no less anxiety-inducing for that.

As the focus, Graham was enjoying a purple patch in a career that had offered him the chance to show off surprising versatility - always the best kind of versatility, and keeping the viewers on their toes was the point here. He didn't use an accent this time, indeed his thickly Liverpudlian tones were a narrative point, though not in a good way, but the manner he only occasionally exploded in anger and for the rest of the ninety minutes we could see how he was bottling up his obviously raging emotions was very powerful. Andy cannot allow his fury to get the better of him, and when others - his staff, his customers - threaten to tip him over a very precipitous precipice he is always aware he must set an example and not go volcanic.

But good intentions only take you so far, and the whole film becomes a metaphor for a society where everything seems made up of individual elements that are put under enormous pressure until they fail. If casting an eye over the headlines which appear to take great glee in informing you of the myriad ways the world is going to hell in a handbasket makes your blood pressure rise and palms sweat, then you would find much to sympathise with in Boiling Point. Andy may not be an everyman in the purest sense, as he devotes too much time to sowing the seeds of his downfall to be completely convincing dramatically, and that applied to his ultimate fate as well, but many's a viewer who could watch this and regard it as a warning, if not for them then for many businesses and whole countries, when it came to that. This was how civilisation crumbled, bit by bit, not all at once, and if the contrivances were here, so was a canny note of advice you did not always get in, say, a kitchen drama turned thriller.

[Boiling Point will be in cinemas and on digital platforms in the UK and Ireland on 7th January 2022.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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