Film review: Burnt – Bradley Cooper is a vicious rock-star chef in foodie character drama
Slightly overdone and peppered with one too many gasps over pretty food, this film won’t be to everyone’s taste despite the presence of flavour du jour Bradley Cooper
Today’s celebrity chefs do have outsize personalities, but Adam Jones takes it all a notch higher in Burnt. The Bradley Cooper character comes over as a potent mix of Axl Rose and Jim Morrison. While the chef’s rock-star persona – complete with moody introspection, moments of mindless violence, and a past drug habit – do seem excessive, an excellent script and an immersive performance by Cooper result in an interesting character study.
Burnt’s story arc has a lot in common with the cheerful foodie film Chef, but this time it takes place on the dark side of life. Jones is a once well-regarded chef whose drug habits – heroin and cocaine – led to shame and unemployment.
Now clean, Jones manages to wangle a shot at a return in a swish restaurant managed by Tony (Daniel Bruhl). Spunky London lady Helene (Sienna Miller) brings him up to date on modern cuisine, while psychiatrist Dr Rosshilde (Emma Thompson) tries to keep his baser instincts in check. But two thugs after some drug money he owes threaten to haul Jones back into the past.
The movie won’t be to everyone’s taste, as Jones is so irritatingly obnoxious that he elicits minimal sympathy. But director John Wells, a notable long-time TV producer of series such as ER, seems more interested in shaping an anti-hero than a likeable leading man, anyway. The flaw in the film is instead the continual flood of people gasping at the pretty food, which defuses Cooper’s exercise in embittered malignancy.
Burnt opens on December 10