‘Boiling Point’ Review: The Worst Night in the Life of a Restaurant

“Drama,” Alfred Hitchcock once observed, “is life with the dull bits cut out.” This suggests a potential paradox when it comes to the so-called single-shot movie, one contrived to look as if it were recorded in one take, in real time. (Thanks to digital technology, it often isn’t.) If you aren’t cutting, how do you get rid of the dull bits?

“Boiling Point,” written and directed by Philip Barantini, tells the story of a rising London chef’s worst night — a night when his life is going to pieces as his restaurant is coming to ruin. We first see the chef, Andy Jones, on the phone, contending with one of the hoarier clichés of overworked men, that of having missed an important event in the development of one of his children.

Worse awaits inside the eatery. Bigoted diners. Loud social media influencers. A celebrity chef and silent partner of Andy’s who has brought along a restaurant critic. Disgruntled employees. Oh, and a nut allergy.

The ostensible point of the no-cutting ethos (and Hitchcock actually tried it, in “Rope,” with mixed results) is to heighten realism. But here the ever-mobile camera imposes a kind of determinism. When it trails a restaurant worker taking out the trash, the viewer knows they’re not being removed from the central action just to observe labor — there’s a plot point to be ticked.

The actual drama is a hero’s journey that unpeels itself as an antihero’s journey, to indifferent effect. Stephen Graham, who plays Jones, is a fine actor (and the rest of the cast, especially Vinette Robinson as a particularly put-upon sous chef, is excellent). But for too much of the movie he’s called upon to wear a scowl that makes him look like a Wahlberg who’s swallowed a bad oyster.

Boiling Point
Rated R for language and plenty of it. Running time: 1 hour 32 minutes. Rent or buy on Apple TV, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.

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