Film Reviews

Boiling Point – Blu-ray Review

Boiling Point is a classic tale of a man having a terrible day. In this instance our lead character is head chef Andy Jones (Stephen Graham – Snatch, Band of Brothers) and as soon as we meet him, he’s in trouble. In the opening minutes of the film we discover that food hasn’t been prepared, he’s missed an important event with his son, and there’s an officious health inspector come to make his life misery thanks to missing paperwork.

From there the pressure only gets worse as events unfold over one single 92-minute take that gives neither the cast nor the audience a moment to rest or gather their thoughts. The restaurant is overbooked and there are demanding (and occasionally racist) customers to be served. His wonderful evening is topped off with the appearance of a former mentor (Jason Flemyng – Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels; The Bunker) who has arrived with a food critic in tow as a date, and he would really like Andy to pay him back the money he loaned him. All of it. Now.

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Boiling Point could be described as falling into the kitchen sink realism movement from the 50s/60s, a movement that encompassed art of all kinds including cinema, novels and plays that featured “angry young men”, disillusioned with life. It leaned heavily into social realism, starkly showing the lives of working class Britons. Notable examples of the genre are A Taste of Honey and Kes. There are no shining heroes in Boiling Point, no movie stars, no beautiful people; just folks trying to make it from one paycheck to the next.

© Saban Films.

The acting and writing for Andy is a fine balancing act. On the one hand, he is loud, foul-mouthed and distracted to the point that it’s impacting the business and the other kitchen staff. He also leans far too heavily on fellow chef Carly (Vinette Robinson – Sherlock, Code 404) to support and cover for him. But he’s obviously struggling. His marriage is broken, his relationship with his child is bad and he’s been sleeping on the office floor. He could be any one of us in 21st century Britain. It’s so easy to find ourselves out of our depth and to feel the walls closing in. Stephen Graham remains a criminally underrated actor, who brings real humanity to a part that would be all too easy to play off as caricature.

In terms of this limited edition Blu-ray release, it’s the usual high quality fare we’ve come to expect from Second Sight Films. As well as a beautiful transfer of the film, there are plenty of special features to get your teeth into (no pun intended). There are two audio commentary tracks; two interviews with producers Hester Ruoff and Bart Ruspoli; an interview with writer James Cummings called ‘Simmering Steady’; and a 40-minute making-of documentary that’s genuinely a fascinating watch.

© Saban Films.

The limited edition release also features a slipcase with new art by Andrew Bannister; the usual assortment of art cards; and a 70 page book with essays from Howard Gorman, Clarisse Loughrey, Christina Newland & Matthew Thrift. All in all, it’s a really strong release but there’s one curious omission, and one can only assume it’s due to some rights or licensing issue. The original short film, the one that inspired this feature-length offering, is conspicuous by its absence, and that’s a shame when it’s referenced so often in these supplemental materials.

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Boiling Point is, in some ways, a demonstration of how to make your life astoundingly difficult as a filmmaker. Not only is it filmed in one take, the dialogue is all semi-improvised. Add to this so many microphones that they needed to seek permission from Ofcom, a tight shooting schedule thanks to Covid lockdowns on top of the even tighter confines with the restaurant, and you have a recipe for puckered sphincters and nervous tics. Boiling Point, though, is a triumph of filmmaking. It’s one of the best British movies to come out in recent years and this release does it proud.

Boiling Point is out on Limited Edition Blu-ray on 21st November from Second Sight Films.

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