I’ll do my best to avoid any awful puns
Burnt (or is it Chef … or Adam Jones?) is directed by John Wells (The Company Men (2010)) and while they couldn’t make up their mind about the title what we do know is that Bradley Cooper is in the lead role as gourmet chef Adam Jones. Adam made his name in Paris earning two Michelin stars before over indulging in booze, drugs, women and anything else he could get his hands on. Have spent two years in New Orleans getting sober he’s in London looking up an old pal Tony (Daniel Bruhl) looking for an opportunity to get back in the game and earn the illusive third Michelin star. He builds his team but finds cooking trends have moved on and he can’t quite shake his past. Will the talented new recruit Helene (Sienna Miller) help him find salvation? Well that would be a spoiler wouldn’t it!
This film will probably be compared with Chef (2014) which is unfortunate because 1) that is a far superior film and 2) they take place in very different worlds. Chef was a road trip with food pornography thrown in whereas Burnt is about fine dining and the pressure to succeed at the elite level, or at least I think that is what it was supposed to be. The biggest problem with the film is that it comes across as inconsequential. I think it was supposed to be a dramatic piece with big tantrums and discourse on what food can be when raised to an artistic level but there is little depth. Oddly Cooper doesn’t deliver that sense of menace when he’s chewing out his kitchen brigade or smashing plates against the walls which results in those scenes having no impact on the audience.
There are odds and ends about the importance of good and bad reviews, rivalries with other chefs etc but to repeat myself its inconsequential, you don’t feel the stakes are that high. There is a plot line regarding outstanding drug debts that appears to exist for no other reason that for Alicia Vikander to appear in two scenes and add her name to the poster. You see the same thing repeated with Uma Thurman who is in precisely two scenes as a feared food critic. On the positive side there is a really good scene when it appears that Adam may be unraveling again and Siena Miller is good as the working mum who initially resists the call to work in Adam’s new restaurant.
Burnt is an OK film but if you’re on a budget I would give it a miss and save up for the next Hunger Games movie. My rating 3/5 but would understand it if you scored it a 2.
P.S. No over egging the pudding in this review