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Film review: For a chef movie, Burnt completely lacks flavour

Aleesha Matharu | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:47 IST

The culinary world of Michelin stars opened up to us mortals mostly through Masterchef Australia - which is full of emotion, up and downs and "cooking from the heart".

Burnt is the exact opposite.

It's a bad boy chef drama where the chef, instead of being a charming go-getter, is played by a very charmless and robotic Bradley Cooper.

On the surface, Cooper seems a good fit as Adam Jones, a pretty obnoxious American who made his name in Paris by getting two Michelin stars before letting alcohol and drugs bring him down.

Written by Steven Knight and Michael Kalesniko, directed by John Wells, the film opens with Jones doing self-imposed penance for screwing up in Paris in New Orleans shucking a million oysters. Yes, a million.

After completing his task and carefully noting the exact number of shucked oysters in a diary, he heads off to London to try and make a comeback.

A bad boy chef isn't complete without a cool bike, is he?

His goal? Lead a restaurant that earns the ultimate three Michelin stars.

As a young cook who idolises Adam explains the importance of Michelin stars to his girlfriend: A rating of one star is good, the equivalent of Luke Skywalker. Two stars is "the guy played by Alec Guinness."

Three stars, well, that's Yoda.

Jones talks his way into running the restaurant at an upscale London hotel. The hotel is managed by an old buddy - Tony (Daniel Bruhl) - and he even gets some of his old pals to come work for him.

He pulls all-nighters with chef Helene (Sienna Miller), a talent scouted by Jones out of an Italian restaurant. He screams and yells and flings plates and food.

The budding love story between Jones and Helene lacks the level of romance Cooper is capable of serving up

The most interesting performances come from Bruhl (who admires Jones for more than his foie gras), Emma Thompson (as Jones's wise therapist) and Matthew Rhys (as a competing chef whose compassion is commendable).

The movie also doesn't show us all that much about what we want to know - how top kitchens work. All we know is that there's lots of yelling, and quips like, "Your look is very Paris-in-2007."

The dialogue ranges from cheesy ("We should be dealing in culinary orgasms") to nonsensical ("People eat because they're hungry - I want to make people stop eating").

The movie also stereotypically concludes that all good chefs who make it to the top are bullies.

Taste this, for example: "If it's not perfect, you throw it away," says Cooper's plate-throwing chef.

Pity director John Wells didn't aspire to the same level of quality control.

Burnt is bland fare at best.

First published: 30 October 2015, 7:52 IST
Aleesha Matharu @almatharu

Born in Bihar, raised in Delhi and schooled in Dehradun, Aleesha writes on a range of subjects and worked at The Indian Express before joining Catch as a sub-editor. When not at work you can find her glued to the TV, trying to clear a backlog of shows, or reading her Kindle. Raised on a diet of rock 'n' roll, she's hit occasionally by wanderlust. After an eight-year stint at Welham Girls' School, Delhi University turned out to be an exercise in youthful rebellion before she finally trudged her way to J-school and got the best all-round student award. Now she takes each day as it comes, but isn't an eternal optimist.