Release Date: October 30, 2015
Director: John Wells
Writer: Steven Knight, Michael Kalesniko
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Daniel Bruhl, Riccardo Scamarcio, Omar Sy, Sam Keeley, Henry Goodman, Matthew Rhys, Stephen Campbell Moore, Emma Thompson, Uma Thurman, Lexi Benbow-Hart, Alicia Vikander, Lily James, Sarah Greene
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 100 minutes
Production Company: 3 Arts Entertainment, Double Feature Films, PeaPie Films (Assistant to Kris Thykier), The Weinstein Company
Genre: Comedy, Drama
I’ll be honest admitting that I enjoy the fine delicacies of fast food, but like most I prefer the slow preparation of my meals over a hot stove. Home cooked meals have a relation to this notion, but the quality of the final product goes far beyond the necessary ingredients. Besides knowing how to measure and stir, it’s the love inside the kitchen that cranks your taste buds to the next level. It’s not realistic to expect this type of service at your average restaurant, but it’s not impossible to find fine dining that will pop with magic and wonder either. Imagine a kitchen full of expert chef’s, preparing every dish as if it were their last. Imagine them working so hard that if they failed, their first born would cease to exist. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have such dedication every time you went out for supper? I think so, and if the goal of Burnt was to make you feel this way it succeeded with little effort.
Wanting to create the best restaurant in the world is a noble feat, and making the attempt alone is enough to gain your respect. Besides Wedding Crashers, Bradley Cooper is usually the popular handsome fellow trotting along on screen. This time he’s playing Adam Jones, and he doesn’t just trot around. He trots, skips, throws temper tantrums, and screams boisterously. Sounds like the perfect boss right? Not even remotely close. You would think for someone who literally had everything they wanted, then lost it all over drugs and alcohol would keep things together. Adam did bouncing back on his feet, but had a difficult time keeping the hired help happy. Straight and simply put, Adam Jones is one of the biggest assholes you’ll ever meet. So with him being the main protagonist it makes it difficult to root for his character. What’s likeable about him is his passion for his work. If one extra grain of salt is placed on the food unnecessarily he considers it an abomination. That’s crazy and genius all at the same time, and the only reason I wanted him to succeed. Helene (Sienna Miller) and Michel (Omar Sy) had their moments to shine too. Helene is a damn great chef and she knows how to stand up for herself, and the addition of Michel added a unique flavor of mystery to the mix as well.
Easily the highlight of the film was all the delicious foods and their preparation. The score that was used was the driving force behind the whole film. Each time the fire was lite in the kitchen, you knew you were in for the best of the best. The way the camera zoomed in close showing every detail of every dish was splendid. Each shot of food had me nearly salivating at the mouth, while bobbing my head to the already riveting score.
The weaker portion of the film was due to pacing and longevity. As far as the plot is concerned, all we know is Adam Jones wants to run the best restaurant in the world. Though the film takes a while to explain how this will be accomplished. Sure, he can cook great food and expect a fantastic review, but the main goal is explained far too late in the film, then still doesn’t spend too much time in this area of development. I wanted more back story for Adam Jones as wll. Maybe a flashback of him in the limelight, but that was absent. The film is also a roller coaster tonally, and has an extra subplot that’s unnecessary. This subplot could’ve slashed ten minutes off the film that started to drag. I’m on the fence with Adam’s character by wanting him to succeed, but knowing he doesn’t truly deserve it. Screaming at employees like their dogs, and throwing plates across the room makes it hard to win people over. Then after a while you notice a pattern of 15 minutes of greatness followed by another five minutes of bored sighs. So in a nutshell when things were popping off in the kitchen you’re there anticipating the best, but else where it’s a characters journey I cared little about.
I can’t remember the last time there was a protagonist that I liked and simultaneously hated. I loved Adam Jones passion and dedication, but his temper and intrusiveness forced me to scratch my head. He was an arrogant prick, but could back up all of his ridiculousness in the kitchen. There’s been films like this before, but fortunately this one stands on its own. Like Chef that premiered a couple of years ago, Burnt has the same premise, but focusing more on the drama. Chef is more of a comedy catering to families, or is the perfect date movie. Between the two there’s a difference in perspective that I appreciated, and the film also encourages you to try something new. It demands your attention when food is being prepared, and is a decent film that I thoroughly enjoyed.