15 – 96mins – 2015
“It’s going to be a long, hard road, but slowly… I hope to gain everyone’s respect.”
Amiable Bradley Cooper dominates an impressive – but largely underused – supporting cast in this foodie drama about a 2 Michelin-starred chef who returns to the London restaurant scene after a wild sojourn in Paris which nearly ruined him as well as his career.
As “ogre in the kitchen” Adam Jones, Cooper occupies the well-worn cliché of the troubled genius (think Steve Jobs’ less than shining personality) who has made a lot of enemies and struggles to move on from the mistakes which haunt his every service – no matter how many oysters he has shucked in penance.
“I fucked it up a long time ago.”
From the very beginning I admired Adam’s determined search for perfection (“We need to be dealing in culinary orgasms.”), even if his darker edges made him less easy to associate with. However, in keeping his murky drug past at arms length, Steven Knight’s screenplay fails to endow Adam’s struggle with adequate ballast, leaving a lot of his moping and incendiary tantrums to come across as merely overly-sentimental.
That being said, his meltdown following a spicy sabotage did hit hard, and I do think that Burnt eventually succeeds in winning the audience over due to Bradley Cooper’s vulnerable portrayal of an honest and redemptive man.
Finally, as shameful as it was to waste A-listers Uma Thurman and Emma Thompson in minor roles (the former is little more than a cameo), it was a pleasant surprise to see Alicia Ex_Machina Vikander give a brief but tender performance as an unwelcome but well-meaning blast from Adam’s past.