Boiling Point (2022)
‘A watched pot never boils', but sometimes it does
by Emma Chen
courtesy of IMDB
Set in a high-end restaurant on the Friday evening before Christmas, one of the most stressful days of the year for kitchen and hospitality staff, Boiling Point (2021) is the visual representation of a pot of water becoming hotter and hotter and eventually reaching the catastrophic boiling point that the title anticipates.
The story itself is as simple as it could be: a busy restaurant has to deal with food inspection, critiques, annoying customers, and a nut allergy reaction. But in its simplicity, it is true to reality. Ultimately, it shows how every person has their own life and problems outside their job, from the newly divorced and alcoholic chef to the pregnant dishwasher.
It can also be considered an analysis of the stress to which people in hospitality are subjected every day; from continuous complaints to individuals who do not do what they are supposed to, and from racist customers to power abuse from managers higher up in the hierarchy.
As a person who has worked as a customer assistant before, the depiction of such a realistic fast-paced working environment succeeded in making me laugh and nod, and it created stress and rage when the situation became too familiar.
The audacity of the director, Philip Barantini, was to produce a 90-minute-long film in a single shot. Although one-shot films have been done more spectacularly before, I find this technical choice particularly suitable for Boiling Point as it adds authenticity to the staff's pressure and anxiety. On the other hand, sometimes the camera movements and tricks used to change scenarios appear purposeless and artificial, as in a scene where we watch a closed door, behind which a character is crying, for an unnecessary amount of time.
The film is carried on by the performance of the actors, who were able to give an overall optimal interpretation given the fact that they could not ask for single retakes or breaks while filming. As a result, speeches are fragmented and occasionally interrupted, and the characters' reactions are exaggerated and inevitably spontaneous.
In depicting the horrors of working in a restaurant, Barantini is able to capture and make you feel the amount of tension growing until the end – the boiling point moment that everyone was expecting. And as soon as the pot starts boiling, the director turns off the stove and ends the film, leaving you wondering what will happen to the staff and the restaurant and, above all, whether you should apply for that job in hospitality or not.