Boiling Point – Blu-Ray Review

Boiling Point is a British movie that got rave reviews – but undeservedly so. It’s 90 minutes long and all done in one take, which at this point is a ridiculous gimmick that I am getting sick of. It’s not enough to make up for the fact that you don’t have a story, but some critics will lose their minds over it.

It’s all set on one evening in an upscale London restaurant with Stephen Graham playing the head chef. Graham is an actor I genuinely like. The food hygiene rating has been downgraded to a 3, he’s not very good with paperwork, and over the course of the night the story drifts around various characters in the restaurant and just outside. All of the problems that happen in this night will soon come to a boiling point.

But I just didn’t buy much of it, and I didn’t find any of the characters really engaging. There also aren’t any big surprises about what happens in the kitchen. If you’ve seen any of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown or No Reservations, you can guess that maybe the chef has a drug problem.

It’s directed by Philip Barantini, who is also an actor. You get the sense that it’s very much an actor’s project made to give Graham a meaty role, which is fine, but you totally see that this is a short film (which it was) that has been expanded into a feature—and now it’s being made into a TV series. It has the same problem as quite a few gritty British dramas, that they put too many negative scenarios that you’ve heard about (I, Daniel Blake being another example), stitching too many events and narratives together around too few people. It would have been more believable if the narrative was more streamlined. Trying to cram everything from obnoxious instagram influencers after a free meal to someone with a nut allergy to snotty food critics and the food hygiene issue, personal problems and all the rest into such a short time ends up being very unbelievable—when it is meant to be a realistic behind-the-scenes view of an upscale London restaurant.

It’s also very derivative. It wants to have the energy of something like Uncut Gems, but doesn’t have it (nor is the story good enough to support the drama and make you buy into that world). The film due to being so contrived ends up feeling like a moralistic Channel 4 production from 2000s.

The disc comes with new audio commentaries by producers Hester Ruoff, Bart Ruspoli and co-writer James Cummings, and by actors Jason Flemyng and Ray Panthaki. Extras include lengthy new interviews with producer Hester Ruoff, producer Bart Ruspoli and writer James Cummings, and 2021 making-of documentary. It’s packaged in a rigid slipcase with new artwork by Andrew Bannister plus a 70-page softcover book with new essays by Howard Gorman, Clarisse Loughrey, Christina Newland and Matthew Thrift, and six collectors’ art cards.

★★

Ian Schultz

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