Boiling Point: an Exercise in Suspense
With a veritable feast of home-grown films due for release in the upcoming weeks, we wanted to highlight Philip Barantini’s fantastically suspenseful Boiling Point. This taut British thriller opens at the Showroom on Friday 7 January, following a preview screening and Q&A earlier in the week.
Written and directed by Barantini, and expanded into a feature from an award-nominated 2019 short, Boiling Point picked up an astounding 11 BIFA nominations, taking home awards for best-supporting actress, cinematography, casting and sound. This is particularly impressive considering Barantini’s relatively recent move from acting to directing. With twenty years’ experience in front of the camera before moving behind it, Barantini has appeared in HBO dramas Band of Brothers and Chernobyl as well as Gregor Johnson’s 2003 film Ned Kelly. Now, alongside Andrea Arnold, Joanna Hogg, Clio Barnard and Aleem Khan, he has been recognised as an exciting voice in contemporary British cinema.
Set in a popular London bistro on one of the busiest nights of the year, Boiling Point follows head chef Andy Jones (Stephen Graham) on what quickly becomes a kitchen shift from hell. We first meet Andy pre-service, apologising to his ex-wife on the phone for missing his son’s swimming competition. Already late when he arrives at the restaurant, he’s met by a surprise visit from a health and safety inspector, setting his overworked and understaffed kitchen team on edge. Throughout the evening, multiple personal and professional crises threaten to derail Andy’s entire career, as he does battle with food critics, difficult customers, and food allergies.
Remarkably, Barantini serves up this story in a single, unbroken take. There are no cuts to darkness here, with the camera acting as a constant horrified observer of the unfolding action. While much fuss is often made of supposed one-take films (see 2014 Oscar-winner Birdman or Sam Mendes’ 1917), Boiling Point really is shot in one take. Shot during the pandemic, there was just a four-night window in which to capture the film. As suggestions of a return to lockdown grew, the film’s producers shut down filming after just two days; luckily, the first take on the second night was the one that made the cut.
Boiling Point is a relentlessly tense and brilliantly observed drama, led by the always-excellent Stephen Graham as Andy. In this 90-minute exercise of suspense, writer-director Barantini establishes himself as a bold new voice in contemporary British cinema.
Boiling Point opens at Showroom Cinema on Friday 7 January, tickets are on sale now.
This article first featured in the Sheffield Telegraph on Thursday 06 January 2022