HOLLYWOOD—Something that has been difficult to craft in the Hollywood arena for years is an intriguing movie that highlights the culinary world. The last culinary flick to ignite somewhat of an audience was the 2009 flick “Julia and Julia” starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. That was more of a comedy, but played with the idea of cooking. The latest outing, “Burnt” starring Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller falls into the realms of a dramedy; funny at times, but attempts to do comedy as well.
Cooper stars as Adam Jones, a chef on the rise, but his fame and notoriety takes a dip when his hard-partying lifestyle, drug use and manic behavior in the kitchen results in the loss of his restaurant. As a result, Adam finds his life in shambles as he reflects on his prior life and attempts to shape things in hopes of opening a new restaurant to earn three Michelin stars. Yeah, you were left thinking the same thing I thought as someone who knows his way around the kitchen and the culinary world: why not aim for five Michelin stars?
“Burnt” delivers that perspective to the viewer that some of the best chefs in the country can be complete terrors or for a better ace of terminology: a pompous ass in the kitchen. With all the reality cooking shows out there, it’s not too much of a stretch to assume most chefs exhibit similar behavior in the culinary arena. The audience gets that same dose of wrath in Adam’s character, who can’t seem to learn from his past mistakes, even though he does his best to repent to those he screwed over.
Some of those supporting players include Omar Sy, Matthew Rhys, Lily James, Alicia Vikander and Daniel Bruhl. Sienna Miller re-teams with her “American Sniper” co-star to portray Helene, a strong-headed single mother, who calls out Adam’s bad behavior when she sees it. As much as a powerhouse Adam’s ego proves to be, he learns there are still plenty of things he can learn in the kitchen from others, even if they are less experienced than he is.
Cooper captures the character of Adam flawlessly; he comes across pompous, arrogant, a know-it-all, rude, disrespectful, yet charming when it calls for it. He is a character the audience should despise in the movie, but considering he is our protagonist, there is that slight glimmer of redemption. “Burnt” doesn’t bring any level of originality to its narrative, as this is a tale we’ve seen time and time again. Character on top, falls from grace and has to work his or her way back to the top in glorious fashion.
Unfortunately, the movie delivers very few redemptive qualities in its lead character, who is more manic and doesn’t deserve an ounce of forgiveness. For a movie that places food as the central focus, we get to see fancy technique and dishes arrive on the screen, but not much else. If the movie “Burnt” aimed to inspire people to cook it did the exact opposite with its narrative. I found myself wanting to run from the kitchen, and hope to never come face-to-face with a chef who had little respect for his staff or the concept that there is no “I” in the word TEAM.