Film review: BURNT, from ‘Built For Speed’

Burnt is a clichéd story of redemption where a troubled (alleged) genius – in this case a chef – who has squandered his talent through a self-destructive lifestyle of booze, drugs and one night stands, has a second chance at success.

Bradley Cooper plays two Michelin star chef Adam Jones who, after a disastrous drug-induced meltdown in Paris, tries to resurrect his career in London. After talking restauranteur friend Tony (Daniel Bruhl) into giving him a job, Jones assembles a team of eager young chefs and dubious buddies in the hope of scoring that third Michelin star.

The film unsuccessfully tries to portray Jones as a romantically tragic culinary maestro doggedly pursuing a vision that mere mortals can’t comprehend. The film attempts to convey Jones’ vision by having him deliver ludicrous soliloquys about how food should make people weep and have orgasms. In reality Jones is a repulsive git and a workplace bully who screams abuse at his hard-working staff and even assaults a female chef. The fact that the film attempts to engender sympathy for someone like this is utterly reprehensible.

To be fair to Bradley Cooper he is meant to be playing an arrogant tosser and he does so convincingly. He also seems to know what he’s doing around the kitchen and his tirades, conducted in English and French, seem authentic.  Sienna Miler also convinces in a de-glamourized role as a talented upcoming chef but the fact that her character shows romantic interest toward a repulsive creep like Jones is mind-boggling.

Too many big names are wasted in this film with Uma Thurman in a fleeting role as an English food critic and Emma Thompson popping up occasionally as Jones’ perky therapist.  With the exception of the always-reliable Daniel Bruhl and Omar Sy who plays a former sous chef previously caught up in the storm of Jones’ self-destruction, the rest of the supporting cast are given little chance to make an impression.

To convey Jones supposedly troubled mindset, director John Wells adopts a grainy downbeat look for much of the film although this just makes the film feel dreary.  There are, however, enough lovingly filmed scenes of elaborate, carefully constructed culinary treats to have foodies salivating but not quite orgasming.

Fans of confrontational cooking shows will probably revel in this film but others will find it alternately infuriating and dull.

Nick’s rating: **.

Genre: Drama.

Classification: M.

Director(s): John Wells.

Release date: 22nd October 2015.

Running time: 100 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.


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