Considering Bradley Cooper seems most comfortable when coasting through a film on smarm and charm, it’s a welcome development to see him play a tyrannical chef, with all of the character flaws that entails. As Adam Jones, owner of two prestigious Michelin stars and a once-prodigious drug habit, Cooper spends a long portion of screen time being either an unbearable arsehole or manipulatively charismatic – a bipolar mix that isn’t out of place in many a leading restaurant, and unsurprising when Gordon Ramsay, Mario Batali and Marcus Wareing are all credited as consultants.
Unfortunately, unlike the edible alchemy offered up on screen, Burnt never quite nails its balance of true-to-life kitchen action, the lingering camerawork of modern food porn docs and its Hollywood narrative requirements. But while it’s not up there with foodie cinema classics like Big Night, Steven Knight’s film nevertheless achieves more with its premise of washed-up chef chasing a third star than expected.
With the focus squarely on what happens in and around the kitchen and chaotic existence of Jones, rather than customers enjoying his creations, Burnt chucks a sizeable portion of its cast behind the burners. This allows the film to successfully showcase the shoutiest, anguish-filled, most dramatic aspects of the pressure cooker environment producing fine dining experiences.
For some, Jones’ journey through the film may prove unsatisfying as he navigates one or two too many subplots that seem to exist solely to spice things up, but prove unnecessary ingredients. Luckily, plenty of familiar faces help to prop up weaker elements, and leads Cooper and Sienna Miller impress in convincingly portraying the professional and personal aspects of their characters. It may not be up to Adam Jones’ expectations of perfection, but Burnt is nevertheless a watchable tale set in an ever-fascinating environment.
‘Burnt’ Movie Times
You could also try: Chef, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Ratatouille