Review: One-take ‘Boiling Point’ goes behind the breakneck scenes of a restaurant


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Ninety minutes, one take, all chaser: Welcome to “Boiling Point,” an exhilarating workplace drama that’s like jumping into a speeding sports car, one inexorably headed for a brick wall. But what a ride it is until it makes its final curve.

With a pushing, prowling, peeping camera that hurtles the viewer into you-are-there territory, director Philip Barantini, who co-wrote with James Cummings (based on their 2019 short-film collaboration), drops viewers into one intensely frantic, make-or-break night in the life of a trendy British restaurant. It’s a miracle the upscale cuisine here ever makes it to the tables.

At the center of the deftly choreographed mayhem, dazzlingly presented in a single continuous shot (kudos to cinematographer Matthew Lewis and his team), is head chef and proprietor Andy Jones (Stephen Graham), a mood-swinging whirling dervish with a list of problems that threaten to upend the newly separated dad at every turn. These include a pop-in from an eagle-eyed health inspector (Thomas Coombes); an unexpected visit from an agenda-driven celebrity TV chef (Jason Flemyng) along with a fearsome food critic (Lourdes Faberes); a talented sous chef on her last nerve (Vinette Robinson); a rudely misguided house manager (Alice Feetham); and a patron with a nut allergy that, well, you can guess how that goes. As for what’s in Andy’s appendage-like water bottle, suffice it to say it’s not Evian — and that’s not the least of what’s keeping him going.

The rest of the bistro staff — a hotheaded grill chef, a slacker dishwasher, an aspiring actress, an ebullient Scotsman, an overwhelmed French prep cook and many more — vividly add to the whirl and swirl. There are also entitled customers such as a trio of steak-hankering influencer bros and an insufferably condescending family man.

The loosely improvised film, set and shot at the stylish Jones & Sons, a popular bar/restaurant in East London’s lively Dalston district, may be anchored by Graham’s superbly kinetic performance but ultimately proves a team effort. The nimble, naturalistic performers are uniformly terrific. A special shoutout goes to Robinson, who navigates her character’s unbridled meltdown with alarming skill.

‘Boiling Point’

Rated: R, for pervasive language and some drug use.

Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes.

Playing: Lumiere Cinema at the Music Hall, Beverly Hills; available Nov. 23 on VOD

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