Boiling point available on Netflix
Boiling point available on Netflix

Excellent portrayal of pressure on customer-facing workers

Katie Simpson, Northampton Socialist Party

Boiling Point shines a light on the dark side of the restaurant industry. The film follows head chef Andy Jones, played by Stephen Graham, as he navigates the pressure of maintaining a business on the busiest night of the year, while battling his own demons.

The film shows Andy faced with an unexpected food hygiene inspection, overwhelmed staff, demanding customers, and an ex-business partner trying to pressure him into collaboration to pay off business debt.

We are starkly introduced to the characters who make up Andy’s kitchen. They are good, honest workers who are – or at least were once – passionate about their role in maintaining a high-quality restaurant. They are berated at times, encouraged at others, but always under pressure.

While much of that pressure comes from Andy, he is responding to the manager, food critics, influencers, debt collectors and ever-demanding customers. Andy reflects on his own behaviour at intervals, and swigs on what appears to be a bottle of water throughout the night.

As pressure mounts, serious mishaps culminate in catastrophe, causing staff members to lash out at Andy, who breaks under the pressure. The film nakedly tackles mental health and addiction that are under the surface of a customer-focused industry. There are no scene cuts at any time in the film, which perfectly illustrates the evening’s pace and pressure.

Boiling Point will be appreciated by people who have worked in this or similar industries. Anyone working in a customer-facing role at a busy time of the year will relate. The film empathises the audience with the characters by highlighting the reality of their plight.

As a drug and alcohol recovery worker, and someone who has always worked in customer-facing roles, I see the film as an important lesson. Prestige and profits are always placed above staff wellbeing in these workplaces under a capitalist society. I imagined how Andy and his staff would have coped if they were cooking good, nutritional meals for members of their own class, without fear of critics, businessmen and bankruptcy.

It was a reminder that passion and talent do not thrive under capitalism, but are destroyed by always needing to meet the needs of the capitalist market. In a socialist society, where the needs of all are met by all, none of the pressures we are met with in this film would even exist.