Quick synopsis: Enter the relentless pressure of a restaurant kitchen as a head chef wrangles his team.
As I’ve said before, I am a sucker for a film with a good gimmick, a hook that makes it stand out from the rest. One gimmick I’m always a fan of is one-takes. They’re really hard to do but when they work they’re marvellous. A good one is one where you don’t really notice that much. I’m not saying ones that don’t impress you, but if the camera is just following somebody walking and not showing anything, then the gimmick hurts it. In a great one, things are always happening so you don’t have much dead time.
That’s definitely the case in this, stuff is always happening so you have no moments where you can relax as an audience, it’s just constant tension. It helps that whilst Andy (Stephen Graham’s character) the background characters are all fleshed out so when the camera follows them for a few minutes, it doesn’t feel like a distraction, instead, it feels like it was a live cameraman who just followed what he thought would be the most interesting story. You feel like the characters are constantly doing things off the camera, they’re not just standing still waiting for the story to focus on them again.
It’s a very dynamic movie, but small. It’s all about the dynamics between the characters, between the departments etc. There’s a plot point near the end where things get more serious, but it had to be serious to show how actions have consequences. The film needed something big to happen, and it does. In terms of film, it’s quite small, but if it happened in a restaurant while you were there, you’d consider it a big deal.
I’ve already talked about it from a technical standpoint, but that’s all helped by the performances. There are not many performers I know, but everyone knocks it out of the park. Stephen Graham is the highlight though, is he quietly one of the most talented actors this country has? I can’t see him leading an action movie, but if you need someone to make you FEEL, you wouldn’t go wrong with him. The most talented of the ones I don’t recognise is Vinette Robinson, who has a magnificent screen presence and delivers one of the best pieces of dialogue in the film where she goes on a long rant aimed at one of the front of house staff. It must not have been easy to deliver that as perfectly as she did, and it’s one of the highlights of the film.
Don’t get me wrong though, this is a dark film. There’s a level of ugliness over the whole thing. If I had to sum this up I’d say this film is like heroin. It’s not something you’ll be eager to try, but if you do sample it then you’ll be unable to stop, and it will linger with you long after you finish.