Those of us who haven’t ever worked in a restaurant probably don’t understand just how stressful it can be. It isn’t all bad of course, as the intensity of the job can often lead to great friendships and of course the tips can make it a very lucrative line of work, but ask anyone who has ever waited tables if even years later they still have the occasional nightmare about a particularly bad shift and they will almost certainly say yes. Much like the excellent FX series The Bear, writer / director Philip Barantini’s Boiling Point (co-written with James Cummings) attempts to capture that stress and relay it to audiences, a feat the movie achieves admirably and with almost documentary-like authenticity.
Chef Andy Jones (Stephen Graham) has recently opened his own restaurant and as we first meet him is arriving late while the staff prepares for dinner service, partly due to his having to deal with issues at home. A health inspection is just wrapping up as he enters, and he is informed that they are having their rating downgraded as a result of missing paperwork. Despite that being his responsibility, Andy takes out his anger on his staff, only to back down when learning that another costly mistake was also his own. His sous chef Carly (Vinette Robinson) gets him to calm down and catches him up on where things are.
Front of house manager Beth (Alice Feetham), whose father is an investor in the business, gathers the staff for a meeting and informs them that dinner service has been overbooked, Andy’s ex-boss and celebrity chef Alastair Skye (Jason Flemyng) will be dining with them, and that one table will have a marriage proposal. And then it’s off to the races. Some staff members arrive late, a group of Instagram influencers demand to be allowed to order items that aren’t on the menu, a wealthy guest reacts with hostility when his white waitress is switched out for one who is Black, the pastry chef discovers that her protégé is self-harming, and chef Skye arrives with a famous food critic in tow.
Filmed in one continuous take, the tension builds as the camera roams the restaurant, capturing every moment as they all build together to create a dinner service from Hell. Much like in a real restaurant the emotions can whipsaw between levity, sadness, and anger in mere seconds as everyone strives to make the guests happy without losing their own sanity, with varying levels of success. From the facades the wait staff have to put on, often while putting up with abuse from nearly all sides to the egos of chefs and the various ways that they can materialize it seems like nearly every detail of restaurant life has been captured to a T. The world would probably be a better place if everyone had to work in a restaurant for at least a little while, but barring that, watching a movie like this one should at least foster a greater sense of sympathy for the people who are striving to give us all a nice night out. ★★★★★
rated r for pervasive language and some drug use.
★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor