Boiling Point

15¦ Blu-ray, DVD

There was a time when you could go to a restaurant and not know who the chef was. Then bloody Gordon Ramsey happened.

The truth is, the celebrity chef has been around far longer than Ramsey’s legacy, it’s just that the likes of Keith Floyd, Michel Roux, Anne-Sophie Pic haven’t ridden the celebrity chef train quite as hard as Ramsey, and his foul-mouthed persona has certainly propelled him to global popularity due to social media and his hugely popular shows.

But the fact is that hanging out in a motor home with the likes of Gino D’Campo and Fred Sireix isn’t all in a day’s work for most chefs; it’s a stressful position made worse by working all the hours under the sun just so that customers can get food on their table.

Scouser and actor-turned-director Philip Barantini, impresses with only his second feature, serving up this deliciously tense drama set during one night’s service at a trendy London restaurant.

boom reviews boiling point
Make some room for the Pot Noodle, kettle will be ready in 30 seconds.

Arriving late for the evening service at his own restaurant is chef Andy Jones (Stephen Graham). He’s got a lot on his plate, as it were, with family issues and what not, but still, it’s not setting a great example to the rest of his staff.

It’s a busy night ahead too, as they are fully booked. Not only that but he’s also informed that an old friend and colleague of his Alastair Skye (Jason Flemyng), is also coming in tonight; Skye has gone on to achieve a certainly celebrity from having his own TV show, so having him dine at his restaurant is a big deal.

All eyes are on Andy as the tables start filling and the orders come flying in, as the staff prepare for what will be a truly memorable night.

boom reviews The Electrical Life of boiling point
So, I shagged him over the deep fat fryer, her over the microwave, and them in the cold room...

The one ingredient that Boiling Point will be remembered for, rightly or wrongly, is that it's filmed in one take. For just over an hour and a half the camera floats uninterrupted through the restaurant, soaking up all the atmosphere and drama. It’s certainly a brave decision by director Barantini to go with, considering his inexperience behind the camera, but he pulls it off admirably. Sure, it feels gimmicky, and there’s absolutely no reason for its inclusion from a technical or narrative point of view, but it certainly adds to the energy and emotion of the piece.

In fact, other than the occasional floaty sensation from the steady-cam movement, the technique is relatively reserved and pleasingly subtle.

That said, there’s no denying the remarkable technical achievement that it took to make it work; you have a cast performing in a fairly restricted space, with a lot going on around them as far as tables filled with background actors, with absolutely no room for mistakes. After all, you don’t want to be the one that, in the 89th minute, makes a right royal cock-up that means that everyone has to start from the very beginning.

To that end, considering the pressure on all those concerned, the cast are outstanding. Of course Graham is superb, you would expect nothing less from one of Britain’s finest thespians, as his character attempts to keep both his professional and personal life in check. Having one take does lend itself nicely to a feeling of being a fly on the wall for an audience however, as the constant movement from one area of the restaurant to the next, allows us to get a real sense of what’s going on, in real time.

Naturally the film does run out of steam somewhat by its finale, with a story conclusion that does feel somewhat of a cop out, but that’s only to be expected after the impressive shift it's just put in, and it shouldn’t take away from how thoroughly absorbing and entertaining being an uninvited guest to what is a tasty night out.

we give this four out of five