One-shot restaurant thriller lifts the lid on hospitality industry

OUT of the frying pan into the fire. If you’ve worked in hospitality then Stephen Graham’s latest film, Boiling Point, will hit home hard. 

Stephen Graham is on fire as the head chef who learns that on a crucial night like this, anything that can go wrong, probably will

This is “Magic Friday”, the last Friday before Christmas and the busiest night of the year. Andy Jones, head chef at one of the top restaurants in London, is battling debts, addiction and an imploding personal life.

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Vinette Robinson and Stephen Graham in 'Boiling Point' Image: Vertigo Releasing

Shot in a tense single take, the highs and lows of hospitality (although definitely more lows here than say, Jon Favreau's Chef) are captured in a nerve-shattering 95 minutes. 

The pressure is already on when health and safety services unexpectedly show up for inspection. With struggling junior staff, an inept front of house manager, and the full spectrum of demanding customers, these are scenes that will be all too familiar in real life for many. 

Add into the mix a pompous celebrity chef and his dinner date (who also happens to be a big-deal restaurant reviewer), a bunch of arrogant social media influencers, and a customer with a serious nut allergy, and the chain of events soon turns into a recipe for disaster.

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Jason Flemyng as celebrity chef Alastair Skye, with Lourdes Faberes as restaurant reviewer, Sara Image: Vertigo Releasing

Stephen Graham cooks up another intense role

Directed and co-written by Philip Barantini with writer James Cummings, Barantini took inspiration from hospitality roles he had taken on to support his early acting career. He met Stephen Graham on the set of Band of Brothers and developed quite a talent in the kitchen, working his way up to the position of head chef at two restaurants in London.

Set in a fictional restaurant, Boiling Point was actually filmed at Jones & Sons in Dalston. Barantini brought in chef and restaurateur Ellis Barrie from Lerpwl in Liverpool’s Royal Albert Dock as chef consultant on set. Barrie also worked on the original 2019 film short of the same name, with both versions starring an almost identical cast and shot in one take.

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Ray Panthaki as commis chef Freeman Image: Vertigo Releasing

Stephen Graham (Help, The Irishman, Boardwalk Empire, This Is England) is on fire in his role as the head chef who learns that on a crucial night like this, anything that can go wrong, probably will. 

Vinette Robinson (Sherlock, Black Mirror, Star Wars Ep: IX) is outstanding as Andy’s right-hand woman Carly, and well-deserving of the British Independent Film Award (BIFA) for best supporting actress. Vinette also won a jury award for her performance at the world premiere at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

The film also stars Jason Flemyng (Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels; Snatch), Ray Panthaki (Eastenders; Marcella), BAFTA winner Malachi Kirby (The Devils; Small Axe), Hannah Walters (Time; This Is England) and Lourdes Faberes (Good Omens; No Time To Die).

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'Just cook will yer' - Stephen Graham as head chef Andy Jones Image: Vertigo Releasing

Addressing mental health in kitchens head on

Tackling mental health, self-harm, relationship breakdowns and drug abuse, Boiling Point might sound hard to swallow. 

But this is a story that needs to be told. Despite its hard-hitting approach, the film has received praise from many in the hospitality industry for bringing such issues to the fore. 

Jean-Christophe Novelli recalls once being punched in the face by an angry customer. The French multi-Michelin chef told the Daily Mail that "Boiling Point is just like another day in the office...While I have never experienced on one night all the dramas that confront Andy and his team, I have coped with many variations of them."

The film recently secured five spots on the BAFTA longlist, including outstanding British Film and Outstanding Debut by a British writer, director or producer. This kitchen nightmare is a simmering success and could well prove to be the film of the year.

Boiling Point is released in UK cinemas and on digital platforms by Vertigo Releasing. Stream online at Amazon Prime and BFI Player

Follow Vicky Andrews on Twitter and Instagram: @planetvicster