Boiling Point

Boiling Point ★★★★

Hot and bothered in Hoxton, Head Chef, Andy, is holding his restaurant together as his personal life unravels. Things are soon as complicated at work as they are at home.

It's over 20 years since Anthony Bourdain ushered us away from our tables and into the backrooms of high-end restaurants, not just blowing the lid on the tricks of the trade, but also shining an unforgiving light on the macho, dysfunctional culture that has become almost a cliche these days. Perhaps that over-familiarity has bred a little complacency in us customers - if so, Philip Barantini's single-take (well, single-takeish) movie will shake anyone getting comfortable and surveying the wine list.

Sharing a London setting and claustrophobic mien with 2020's stress fest, Surge. Boiling Point turns the oven up to 250 degrees and keeps it there. That's largely thanks to Stephen Graham's tour-de-force performance as Andy, a man cracking under pressure (indeed, cracking up under pressure) but with enough decency and charisma to convince us of why his staff go through so much for him.

Graham is compelling on screen, but he gets excellent support from an ensemble cast in which Vinette Robinson is heartbreakingly efficient as his kitchen manager, bottling it up and Jason Flemyng gives us a TV chef who is not quite identifiable enough to be actionable. It is to Baratini's credit that even the briefest roles are given enough detail to be wholly credible, despite its helter-skelter 92 minutes run time

The film's cinema release is stress-inducing enough, but don't be surprised to see a stage version done in the round some time soon - you really would need oxygen for that! And, next time you're in a restaurant and looking at a bottle of water priced at £5, keep your entitlement to yourself - as Bourdain wrote, you're not paying for the food and drink, you're paying for the real estate and staff.