As soon as I saw the first preview for the new cooking drama Burnt, the first thing I thought of was the famous chef Gordon Ramsey. The trailer showed Bradley Cooper as an arrogant but talented chef who was victim to his mood swings and lack of patience; all the traits that exist within chef Ramsey. Ramsey has made himself a big celebrity partly through his world-renowned restaurants, though mostly through his reality shows like Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares. This was a guy who was not afraid to speak of his mind, but still had enough good judgment for when it was necessary to make or break an aspiring cook.
The image I had developed for Burnt was that it was going to give us the kind of cooking drama that Gordon Ramsey would have written and directed. There is potential for taping into the world of fine dining for a cinematic story. Chef was a fun look at a regular chef’s fall from grace and return, and Ratatouille (a Pixar favorite of mine) looked at cooking and how talent can come from the most unexpected placed. So I was intrigued at what Burnt could bring.
American chef Adam Jones (played by Bradley Cooper) has completed his own punishment for falling under the influence to drugs and alcohol while trying to run a high class restaurant in Paris, France. He flies out to London where he finds two old friends of his, Michel (played by Omar Sy), his former sous chef in France, and Tony (played by Daniel Brühl), a wealthy son of a hotel owner who is also a professional maître d’. These people all know that Adam has the potential to be the best, but also know that he has erratic mood swings and a stubborn ego.
Adam is able to convince Tony to fund his new restaurant in order to try and acquire the legendary three Michelin star rating. He also gets Michel to come on board along with young Anne Marie (played by Alicia Vikandor) who also shows talent, but may not be able to handle the heat that is brought both by the kitchen and Adam’s anger. Along with creating the perfect dishes, Adam also has to see Dr. Rosshile (played by Emma Thompson) to regularly test his sobriety and learn about how the show isn’t always about him, but rather the team he works for.
Ironically for a movie like Burnt that seems to promote high class dining, it comes off as mass-produced like a frozen TV dinner. A lot of it has to do with the general plot, which is simply about getting the Michelin stars. While it’s a situation for the restaurant, I don’t see how this would allow growth for Adam. Regardless if he got the stars or not, he would stay the arrogant prick he is. Speaking of which, Adam is too much of a negative character to support, as he lacks the charm to make him likable. I like characters that are full of themselves, but they need something that redeems themselves or are at least trying to do better. That’s not to say he doesn’t try to do better, but when the final result is in, it doesn’t feel earned.
Apart from the by-the-books story and boring plot, it’s clear that the actors are trying to make this work. They all seem well casted and even have something of developed personalities that should help the plot get going, but the heat of cooking a good story seems too much for these amateurs
I’ll give this two frozen TV dinners out of five. Burnt is just a boring cooking movie. While not as egocentric as a lot of the reality cooking shows on television, it’s too pampered in it’s own right to see how plain their flavor really is.
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