Burnt - Bradley Cooper Cooking Drama is Overcooked, Lacks Spice

Matthew Parkinson | 31 Oct 2015 12:00
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Directed by John Wells. Produced by Stacey Sher, Erwin Stoff, and John Wells. Written by Steven Knight. Release date: October 30, 2015.

It's so incredibly tempting to open up a review of Burnt - a film about the comeback of a "celebrity" chef - using a few cooking analogies, and Burnt certainly sets itself up for them. It contains the wrong ingredients, it's unappetizing, and it's a dish worth skipping - all of those are applicable when talking about this film. Burnt may not be the worst movie ever to be about a chef, but it is one of the slowest moving, and also one that has the least amount of consequences for its jerk of a protagonist.

I'm getting ahead of myself. Our lead is Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper), a formerly famous chef who spent the last few years drinking, injecting, snorting, and smoking his way to obscurity and debt. He's now clean and he decides that he'd like to get a third Michelin star, a big deal in his profession. He manages to force his way into the kitchen of a hotel run by a former friend, Tony (Daniel Brühl), and begins to do just that, recruiting Michel (Omar Sy), who used to work with him, and Helene (Sienna Miller), whom he steals away from another kitchen, along with a bunch of other no-name cooks.

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The rest of the movie lets us watch Adam be a jerk to almost everyone he comes across, all in the quest of attaining of that third star. There's something compelling about watching someone strive for perfection, which is about the only explanation for why none of the other characters don't bolt within the first fifteen minutes. Adam went to the Chef Ramsay school of cooking, apparently, because he's temperamental, aggressive, verbally abusive, and all-around not a nice person. We struggle to tolerate this as silent observers; it's hard to imagine trying to work within that environment.

There are two reasons for us to watch Burnt at this point. The first is to finally see the "perfection" get achieved, while the second is to see Adam get the comeuppance he deserves for his selfish, egotistical, and downright mean actions. Well, you get one of those, and it's not the latter. The film tries to fake us out with the latter, it's true, but soon enough we learn that, no, you can be a jerk and get away scot free as long as you're really good at cooking overpriced food for rich snobs.

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