So I watched Burnt…
My first introduction to Bradley Cooper was in a little TV show called Kitchen Confidential. I was a huge fan of the show and was quite disappointed when it got cancelled after only thirteen episodes. The show followed Jack Bourdain, a once famous chef who had lost his former success due to a life filled with too much booze, drugs and women. Jack cleans his life up and gets a chance at redemption when he is offered the head chef position at a new restaurant. If you’ve watched this movie’s trailer, you’ll realise how identical this movie’s plot is to that show. In a way, it’s like Cooper has come full circle from that young actor with so much promise to one of Hollywood’s most charming leading men.
Okay, basic plot: um…the premise of Kitchen Confidential which I just explained above. But let’s do this properly: Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) is a former drug addict whose self-destructive run of booze, women and drugs cost him a highly successful career as the head chef of a restaurant in Paris. After cleaning up his life, Jones plans to make a return and has ambitions of running the best restaurant in the world, all in the hopes of gaining a third Michelin star. Jones methods are intense and his behaviour erratic, he continually pushes his team to their breaking point. Jones believes perfection is the only way to success but in this journey of redemption he must learn the value of his team and also that of failure.
All I could think about before watching this movie was how similar it seemed to Kitchen Confidential but from the opening scenes in this movie, you get the stark contrast between the two. The subject matter is almost identical but the style with which each story is told could not be more different. Burnt is a ernest drama while Kitchen Confidential was a lighthearted comedy. I keep referring to the TV show not because I don’t take this film seriously or because I don’t think it’s original; but rather because it’s a great way to analyse the progression of Bradley Cooper’s career. He’s essentially playing the same character he was ten years ago but he’s doing it in a completely different way. Jones is a much more layered, complicated character than Jack Bourdain was and seeing the maturity and class with which Cooper handles this character really shows how far he’s come.
Cooper is this movie’s best asset and forms the base which it stands on. I’ve really become a fan of watching Gordon Ramsey and his various TV shows. He has great arrogance, yes; but also undeniable passion. That’s what Cooper brings to this character. It really did feel like I was watching Gordon Ramsey at times and that’s a huge compliment to the authenticity and commitment that Cooper shows in his portrayal of Jones. Sienna Miller and Daniel Brühl put in worthwhile performances as Helene (a chef in Jones’ kitchen) and Tony (the maître d’ of the restaurant), respectively. All three actors had great chemistry with each other and plenty of emotionally charged moments which really made the movie entertaining. Brühl and Cooper’s characters had an interesting dynamic to their relationship, that I don’t want to spoil; but I will say it’s great to see how forward-thinking this movie is and how it thinks beyond the set conventions of relationships.
I found this movie lacked focus at times. Jones is obviously a man haunted by his past because of the terrible mistakes he made but, I felt, there were too many reminders to his past in the movie. People keep popping up and events keep occurring to remind you of his horrible past but I felt they were unnecessary and it felt like the screenwriter was hitting us over the head with the fact that Jones used to lead a dysfunctional life. We get it! He used to be a screw up and now he’s trying to fix his life, noted, no need to remind me of that every six seconds. There were also moments in this movie where I was left waiting for something to happen. There’s so much emphasis on cooking, which isn’t a surprise but I could have done with some more character development or drama and tension that didn’t revolve around an overcooked scallop. I like that the majority of the movie takes place in the kitchen because this is a movie about a chef after all; but I wish that the characters had being more of a central figure than they were.
There are some big name cameos in this film with the likes of Uma Thurman and Emma Thompson joining in the culinary fun but their characters are merely used as plot devices instead of actual parts of the story. This movie is entertaining to watch, mainly because of Cooper’s powerful performance as this movie’s lead and the sharp, witty dialogue presented to each character by the screenwriter.
Overall, Burnt is an enjoyable movie but I think it isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste. Yes, a horde of culinary puns are on their way, prepare yourself. It’s perfectly cooked, well-seasoned and beautifully presented but it isn’t a dish that’s going to appeal to the masses. I think it’s a good movie but if you aren’t a fan of Cooper or shows like Masterchef, Hell’s Kitchen or anything Gordon Ramsey produces, you might find it a bit tedious. It is a good watch though but not one you absolutely have to see. 8/10