Starring: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Daniel Brühl
Director: John Wells
Running Time: 101 mins
Burnt is an American film about Adam Jones, a world-class but hot-headed chef who lost everything after his career went sour in Paris. However, now back on the scene in London, he aims to redeem himself by finally achieving a three-star Michelin rating.
I’ve never really understood this brand of super-duper chef, where every second in the kitchen is like living on the very edge of the apocalypse. With that said, even I found Burnt an engaging watch, as thanks to a superb central performance from Bradley Cooper and sleek directing from John Wells, it’s a film that’s very confident in its delivery of a tale of determination and ambition, a story that’s interesting whatever setting it’s applied to.
Burnt isn’t a perfect film, but it excels in a few areas, particularly in the lead performance. Bradley Cooper is excellent throughout the movie as Adam Jones, not only proving a riveting and charismatic lead throughout, but also managing to show that his character’s desire to succeed is out of an innate hunger and determination, rather than any pretentious beliefs about the food he’s cooking.
Of course, I’m sure there are elements of this film that will be extra enthralling for foodies and fans of cooking shows, because there are a lot of intense cooking sequences throughout. For me, though, what really works is watching a man pushing the limits of his field to try and finally achieve his ambition. It’s not an inspiring nor uplifting story, but it’s one that’s mighty impressive to watch, and that all comes from Cooper’s fantastically driven performance throughout.
Another big plus comes in the form of John Wells’ directing. Again it’s not 100% perfect, and he doesn’t always manage to cement the film well as a genuine drama, occasionally straying into cheesier Hollywood territory with a less-than-interesting romance subplot, however his visual style throughout is brilliant to watch.
The film is fantastically sleek from start to finish, with pristine shots of the spotless kitchens and the painstakingly crafted dishes, while Wells does extra well not to fall into the trap of using shaky cam to up the tension and drama in some of the main cooking sequences, again keeping the film feeling very sleek, while also working to streamline your vision to match that of the main character’s determination, something that I felt really worked well here.
Because of Cooper’s performance and Wells’ directing, the film is both an entertaining and engaging watch, but unfortunately, a rather inconsistent screenplay means it’s not always the most riveting.
The main arc of Cooper’s character is great to watch, but the various twists and turns the film takes along the way just aren’t that good. Ranging from overly serious plot points about the chef’s past in Paris, and how it still haunts him to this day, to a fairly dull and incredibly predictable romance that just doesn’t add the emotional intrigue it really should, all making for a story that’s just not up to scratch, and never fits the bill when you really want to feel fully engrossed.
Overall, I liked Burnt. Its story is less than stellar, but it features some very slick directing and an excellent lead performance from Bradley Cooper, making for a very entertaining and generally very engaging watch, which is why I’m giving it a 7.4.