Boiling Point (2021) Review [FROM THE VAULT]

Boiling Point by Philip Barantini, a powerful unveiling of the relentless pressure within the service industry, and a brilliantly stressful addition to the one-shot film genre. 

Steven Graham, seen many times before as the resentful working-class Brit, plays the brilliant, brooding chef Andy, whose rocky past within the industry lands him in desperate need of success for his restaurant.  

At first introduction he is seen desperately apologizing to his seemingly separated wife for forgetting his son’s birthday, and immediately the suffocation of his overwhelming lifestyle is seen, seeping into his family life.  

As we travel through the one-shot thriller/drama film, we learn of Andy’s substance abuse, the threatening cracks within the restaurant’s foundation, and a crippling debt he owes; one thing after the other threatening his entire livelihood. 

Philip Barantini’s decision to make Boiling Point in one-shot is the essence of its steadily engaging, captivating allure.

The handheld, somewhat shaky camera shots, the following behind characters through the restaurant and the closing in on their faces in tighter shots, all assist in delivering each character’s individual story. This film isn’t just about Andy; it’s about the restaurant manager, the dishwasher, the pastry chefs, the waiters, and even the customers.  

The immersion of the viewer into the film comes from all angles, sounds from the kitchen, music from the floor, a cacophony of sounds filling your ears. We witness the chef taste their food and we experience the flavour with them. We watch as a waitress is increasingly hurt by a customer, and we can’t help but empathise with her. 

Boiling Point is the perfect title for the film. One long, continuous shot, with each event through the night — the disgruntled customers, the unsuccessful health check, the slacking dishwasher, the food critic – each an increase in temperature, all leading to a boiling point, the climax of the film.

With effectively authentic acting of frustrated, flustered workers, the use of crude British dialect, and the typically aggressive chefs, viewers are immersed, perhaps stiflingly, into the service industry and all the things that accompany it.  

Some moments of the film seem comically upsetting, for instance when Andy is deep in conversation with the man he is indebted to, a famous Chef. Right as he brings up the debt, hands waving in exasperation, the oblivious businessman comes up, asking for a “fun one”, a selfie. It’s a subtly comedic tragedy, of things going wrong one after the other, ending at the peak of the night and leaving you drained and emotionally distraught by the end.

Boiling Point is a masterful visualization of an upsetting, very real story, and a brilliant addition to the one-shot film genre. 

By Mina Wakefield

Header image via Screen Daily

FROM THE VAULT is an initiative from this year’s Catalyst editors to get some of the older posts that didn’t get published on the site! You might have seen a couple of other posts earlier this year — there are so many incredible works that get submitted that we just don’t always get to them in time. Enjoy! 

Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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