Movie Review | Burnt

Burnt stars Bradley Cooper in as Adam Jones, an arrogant chef who, after years of tearing up the Paris restaurant scene with reckless drinking, drugs and diva behavior designed to destroy his own life and those around him, travels to London to open a restaurant to achieve his goal of attaining his third Michelin star.

The movie hints at his dark past but never reveals all that truly happened there. What we do know is that he had a rough childhood and at the first chance he could, he escaped to Paris and found work at the restaurant of a man named Jean Luc, who was his mentor and father figure. Some sort of falling out occurred (probably didn't help that he was sleeping with his boss' daughter), and we now find Adam in New Orleans, clean and clear-headed, with a drive to succeed that can't be calmed.

The beginning of the movie follows Adam as he goes on a culinary quest recruiting various chefs for his new restaurant, including up and coming upstarts like David (Sam Keeley) and Helene (played by Sienna Miller) as well as friends from his past like, Michel (Omar Sy) and Tony (Daniel Brühl), who all got their start alongside Adam in their Paris days. Though he is met with resistance at first, eventually the ragtag crew find a home at the restaurant of the hotel where Tony is maitre d'.

The film has an all-star cast, and one could argue has a little too much star power, as some of the characters were a bit superfluous, like Uma Thurman's role as an influential food editor, and whose scenes came and went without much purpose. Conflict is introduced when his past comes to haunt him but it's unlikely that this will kill his drive, as it's clear that "the only person who could kill Adam Jones, is Adam Jones", as Tony remarks. Bradley Cooper does a great job playing this character and his wide range of emotions from scathingly brutal in the kitchen, to vulnerable when he finally lets his guard down, and to downright loopy when he goes on a bender. Also of note is Emma Thompson, who doesn't disappoint as Jones' therapist which he is required to visit weekly as part of his patron's conditions of financing the restaurant.

There are a lot of "food porn" close-up shots of knives bending, fish filleting, and flashes of fire in a pan, so foodies and food show lovers alike will be pleased. Originally titled Chef, producers had to change the name of the film after Jon Favreau's film beat them to the punch. Where one could argue if Favreau's chef was really a chef, there is no doubt that Adam Jones takes fine dining to another level. Techniques like molecular gastronomy, cooking sous vide and chocolate flambé are all on display. The cast in fact, trained with famed London chef, Marcus Wareing (sorry, only two Michelin stars), to hone their culinary skills.

While some parts of the film I found to be a bit predictable and forced, overall the message of the movie was one of redemption, not only for Adam Jones, but for each of the characters, who all had something to prove. I'm sure you can guess how the movie ends, but for a film about the growth and development of a complex character, the ending wraps up the story in a satisfying and sweet way. Just like a cafe gourmand at the end of a meal.

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