A masterful portrayal of working in hospitality hell
Anyone who has worked in hospitality will probably agree with me that it’s hard work. Not just hard but soul-crushingly stressful. It’s the type of job where you have to grit your teeth, put on a smile and pretend like you’re absolutely fine while everything burns around you. Yep, it’s basically K.C. Green’s cartoon canine personified (pictured below for those who don’t know what the heck I’m talking about!)
Now, it’s not always like that and your colleagues can help you through the tough times. Banterous jokes thrown around behind the bar; a lovely table of super polite and fun customers; or just a night where everyone seems to tip or compliment you. There really is no other job quite like it – or one with quite so many highs and lows.
Trying to capture all of that on the big screen – much less in a 90 minute movie – is no easy task. But yet, somehow, Boiling Point achieves all of that and more.
The story, filmed entirely with one continuous shot, essentially revolves around one stressful night inside a restaurant, seen through the eyes of the people who work there. Although the protagonist is head chef Andy Jones (portrayed masterfully by Stephen Graham) the film has enough wherewithal and confidence in its cast to let others take the limelight on occasion.
Vinette Robinson’s portrayal of Carly, Andy’s right-hand woman, is sublime, while characters like head-waitress Beth absolutely personify that bossy, clueless vibe. We’ve all seen the type, those who put on a fake smile and embrace the corporate world but care more about public perception than gaining respect from their peers.
The whole kaleidoscope of different personalities show up here too, from the lay-about who somehow still has a job, to the suffering young apprentice, all the way across to the nightmare customers. Boiling Point shows all of this and more, and the title itself harks back to the behaviour of its characters, and in particular Andy.
I won’t get into spoiler territory here but Boiling Point’s ending is likely to be a point of contention. Those expecting everything to be wrapped up with a neat little bow will be disappointed, although the film works as a “slice of life” snapshot of what a stressful job in hospitality can entail. I dare anyone to go into this and not have ripples of anxiety in the pit of their stomach the whole time!
What’s particularly impressive about this movie though is the way it trusts its audience to pick up crucial bits of exposition and piece together what’s happening. There’s no long-winded explanation of what people are doing; we’re not told that certain customers are sexist and racist; no long dialogues discussing one’s feelings; and no “good guy/bad guy” clichés. These are just people captured in time across one unforgettable night.
Boiling Point is not just a great film, it’s an eye-opening examination of the highs and lows that come from working in hospitality. This anxiety-driven, 90 minute pressure cooker of tension bubbles up and eventually spills over into a messy, thought provoking ending that’ll stick with you for a while. If there’s one hidden gem you should absolutely check out, it’s this one.
Read More: Boiling Point Ending Explained
Verdict - 8.5/10