Saban Films
Reviewed for & linked from Rotten Tomatoes by: Harvey Karten
Director: Philip Barantini
Screenwriters: Philip Barantini, James Cummings
Cast: Stephen Graham, Vinette Robinson, Alice Feetham, Hannah Walters, Malachi Kirby, Izuka Hoyle
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 10/29/21
Opens: November 23, 2021

If Karl Marx were to rise from his grave at Highgate Cemetery and take a taxi to one of London’s hottest restaurants, he would look around. He would check out the kitchen and he would sample the mackerel or crab or duck listed on a paper menu. He would like to declare that he was right all along: that the bourgeois guests enjoying their haute cuisine are the capitalists, lashing out against the poor workers in the kitchen, feasting on what might cost the oppressed workers a month’s salary, the diners enjoy their Jaguars while the kitchen staff take the bus. But mirabile dictu: the real fighting is among the working class in the busy kitchen, getting into one another’s faces, yelling louder than the worst drunk in the dining room. He might conclude that the bourgeois folks have succeeded in dividing the workers, but in reality, the workers do not need the owners of industry to be at each other’s throats.

“Boiling Point” has plenty of sizzle, the load noise exceeding that of the steak which is not on the menu but which one patron insists on having. This is one of those rare movies done with a single take, 90 minutes long and honoring the Greek unities of time, place and action. Director and co-writer Philip Barantini, whose freshman movie “Villain” focuses on a man drawn back into a life of crime, chooses well when he picks Stephen Graham as Andy Jones, owner and head chef of the East London eatery. Addicted to booze and coke and over his head trying to manage the complaints of some neurotic customers and frazzled staff, Andy Jones helps to referee the fights in the kitchen, one which is thankfully not of the open kind, even after suffering from the unannounced visit by a rigid health inspector who gives him three months to restore a cleanliness rating.

You may be surprised to note that this is not only a script two writers, considering that the whole shebang seems improvised, the large staff playing like a Bach fugue posing questions and receiving answers, leading to more questions and still more responses. If you think that Andy’s problems running a restaurant may be chaotic but that still does not excuse daily coke and booze intake, then thick back to the opening scene that shows the poor guy with problems at home, harassed by his ex-wife over his absence as a parent.

The restaurant might be called Boiling Point if the owner chose authenticity over marketing, but Jones & Sons in the fashionable part of East London contributes more stress to Andy than if he instead were the warden in HMP Brixton prison on Jebb Avenue in London’s Brixton section. Here’s a look of some of the individual crises that together drives Andy and his staff to the boiling point.

A celebrity chef, Alistair Skye (Jason Flemyng) is sitting with Sara Southworth (Lourdes Faberes) a prominent food critic. While she has no problems with her dish, Skye is less pleased, accusing Andy of having no business sense and pressuring him into selling him a partnership. Carly (Vinette Robinson) is demanding a raise, threatening to take her skills to a competing eatery. A dishwasher complains that she does not fit in, possibly owing to her low station compared to all these ingenious chefs. A chef pulls back the sleeves of one lad who looks as though he should be in high school, showing three scars on the inside of his arm—apparently not realizing that suicide requires slashing yourself the long way and not across. Though Andy has hired a number of minority chefs and servers, an obnoxious diner tells us Andrea (Lauryn Ajufo) a young Black waitress for not letting a bottle of wine breathe before she pours a glass, claiming that “you people” have no idea of the proper way to serve.

Some of the great dramas are not those handled by police, FBI, NCIS, AFL and the like but run daily on our streets and in our businesses. They are not the kinds of crimes that would attract law enforcement personnel but are the microaggressions that we all try to handle as best we can. “Boiling Point” is an apt microcosm of society and you do not have to be a Londoner to relate to its unfolding, illuminating drama.

95 minutes. © 2021 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online

Story – B+
Acting – B+
Technical – A- (one take!)
Overall – B+

By Harvey Karten

Harvey Karten is the founder of the The New York Film Critics Online (NYFCO) an organization composed of Internet film critics based in New York City. The group meets once a year, in December, for voting on its annual NYFCO Awards.

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