The first thing you should know about Burnt, a film about a rock star fine dining chef who succumbs to his addictions and then attempts to redeem himself, is that it's not a film to watch on an empty stomach.
Bradley Cooper plays Adam Jones, an arrogant, self-centred, pretentious two-star Michelin Guide chef obsessed with gaining his third star. Two years sober and after a self-imposed penance to shuck one million oysters for his bad boy ways, Jones returns to London where he bullies, or charms, depending on how you look at it, old colleagues into helping him set up a new restaurant.
Watch the trailer for Burnt:
Cooper is utterly convincing as a chef (he had some practice in the television series Kitchen Confidential) and, as you'd expect from a three-time Oscar nominee, doesn't let the extraordinary food overwhelm his flawed, likeable character. If you can imagine a combination of chefs Marcus Wareing, Gordon Ramsay, and Marco Pierre White, you've got an idea of Cooper's Jones. Then add piercing blue eyes and a couple of gangsters keen to collect on a drug debt. Cooper is complemented by a top-shelf supporting cast; Sienna Miller as his saucier, Daniel Bruhl as his maitre'd and patron, Emma Thompson as his therapist, and an under-used Uma Thurman as a food critic. They don't quite get the story they deserve, which feels like a bit of a reheat - burn a bridge, build a bridge, and learn it's easier to share the load than carry the burden alone.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
Perhaps, it's because we live in the era of the celebrity chef (the title Burnt references the chef not the food) that Burnt feels like a collection of chef cliches - from tantrums and egos to the importance of fresh local produce - that we've already seen on the smaller screen.
What does shine through though is Steven Knight's (Eastern Promises) pacey, humorous script, and director John Wells' (August: Osage County) genuine kitchen scenes. Foodies will salivate over the quality of knives, kitchen appliances, and experimental food combinations that double as art. But as mouthwatering as the food looks, it lacks soul - something Jon Favreau successfully found in his film Chef. It's cuisine you can't help but Instagram, but won't have you running home inspired to cook for your loved ones.
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Omar Sy
Director: John Wells
Running Time: 100 mins
Rating: M (Offensive language)
Verdict: Pleasant, well acted but predictable culinary drama