By Jack Rico
The 1-4-0: Compared to the great culinary films, #Burnt is a decent watch, but you can’t help ask why it wasn’t great. Fault the script, fault the script, fault the script.
The Gist: In Burnt, Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper), is a two Michelin star chef that lost it all in Paris when he went on an insane bender that cost him his career. After 3 years of penitence, he comes back to London to try and acquire his third Michelin star and journey into immortality. Will he pull it off?
What Works: Bradley Cooper is a star, often nominated Oscar actor and his presence in a film should be enough to attract audiences. The premise gives off interest and the direction of John Wells is handsome.
What Doesn’t Work: If anyone has seen Jon Favreau’s magnificent ‘Chef’ or perhaps the best movie about food ever made, Pixar’s Ratatouille, than you understand how good a culinary film can be. Some of the reasons for my lack of excitement after seeing the movie are clearly in the script of Steven Knight. Cooper’s character is selfish without any redeeming qualities apart from gaining a 3rd star. To see a protagonist so superficial in a dramatic film is the pits. One cannot connect with him. The romance between Cooper and Sienna Miller is abrasive and unromantic, almost hateful at times. I have no clue how director John Wells felt that people would empathize with them. And lastly, insights into the culinary world were unappealing and minimal, aside from the hostile, beastly treatment of people in the kitchen. After seeing this film, not sure why anyone would ever want to work in a restaurant. And finally, what a way to waste away Uma Thurman and Alicia Vikander in the film. They were tertiary parts conveniently inserted to rationalize a scene.
Pay or Nay: Pay because it is watchable, but don’t expect a scintillating, artistic look at the beauty of food. Instead, the film delivers a real sense of how kitchens truly work – high stress, backstabbing friends, arrogant chefs, violent behavior – not my idea of what one would pay their hard earned money to go see. Go ahead and watch Stanley Tucci’s Big Night or Bob Giraldi’s Dinner Rush as excellent, entertaining films about the restaurant business.