No better than an episode of MasterChef. That’s what I kept thinking to myself throughout John Wells’ Burnt. There is no competition in this film, no suspense, just old character moulds in a culinary context. The same old menu, thrown at you in a different restaurant.
Burnt follows Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper), an American chef with two Michelin stars (like Oscars for chefs if you’ll excuse the analogy) striving to make it three. To do so he must exploit various friends and former colleagues, and essentially shout at everyone until his dream is realised. Like a spoiled child, Adam gets his way, bullying his friend Tony (Daniel Brühl) into allowing him to use his restaurant. There are also some details about Adam’s past from when he was a chef in Paris, but the expository dialogue that explains it is so embarrassingly unbearable that I struggled to care when anything happened to Adam ‘because of Paris’.
“he exploitS various friends and former colleagues, and essentially shoutS at everyone”
The insufferable amount of shouting and excessive drama in the kitchen scenes will undoubtedly remind you of any Gordon Ramsey T.V. show, and your comparison would be completely justified. Ramsey himself is listed as an ‘Executive Producer’. While that title is as ambiguous as it sounds, I get the impression that the credit is down to the conversation he and Cooper had in which he simply repeated the phrase ‘shout a lot’ like it’s a mantra all chefs follow. There is too much emphasis on drama in the kitchen here, and not enough on the individual characters. Following too closely the recipe for an entertaining television show leaves Burnt flat, and undercooked.
The final half an hour tries to reconcile you with romantic Hollywood tropes that feel out-of-place, like a friend who’s screamed in your face then panders to you straight after to make it up to you. No, Burnt. Give me some space, forever.
More like this: Whiplash (2014)