Review by Sean Boelman
Although the single-take film is undeniably a gimmick, when executed well, it can result in a genuinely suspenseful thriller. Philip Barantini’s Boiling Point certainly isn’t without its flaws, but it has plenty enough strong elements to make it a worthy movie even beyond its storytelling device.
The film follows the head chef and staff of a gourmet restaurant as they prepare for an especially grueling dinner service. Ultimately, one of the issues of the movie is that it has too many moving parts in the story. And while this does contribute to a feeling of realism, it also makes it feel like the film is too busy.
As is the case with any movie that is shot in a single take, the film is limited by the constraints of playing out in real time. But unlike a lot of those movies, this never drags thanks to the fact that it keeps pushing. There is a constantly mounting feeling of tension, and while it doesn’t pay off as one would hope, it mostly works quite well.
Because of the fact that there are so many moving parts, there are also a lot of themes in play. Some of these, like the film’s exploration of accountability, are really insightful. But on the other hand, there are a lot of subplots that feel entirely underdeveloped. And the ending of the movie is about as unsubtle as they come.
The character development in the film is also a problem. It is in this regard that it becomes abundantly obvious that the movie has bitten off more than it can chew. The film does a good enough job of developing the protagonist, but he is the only character in the movie with a substantial amount of depth. The film tries to make the audience care about some of the other restaurant employees but there is not enough screen time for it to work.
This is an extraordinary showcase for lead actor Stephen Graham, who gives what is undeniably the best performance of his career. He does an exceptional job of capturing this rapid descent into madness. In the supporting cast, Jason Flemyng is also a stand-out, being very effectively hateable.
Any movie that is shot in a single take is obviously quite an impressive feat, but the thing that stands out about this is the way in which it really immerses the viewer in the restaurant setting. The production design and cinematography are very effective at ratcheting up the anxiety that the viewer will inevitably feel.
The writing of Boiling Point definitely isn’t its strongest suit, but there are a lot of really good things happening here. It’s a tense, effective thriller boosted by strong performances and strong execution.
Boiling Point is now in theaters and hits VOD on November 23.