Cinema Cindy Reviews ‘Burnt’

By CYNTHIA BIDDLECOMB
Los Alamos

“Burnt” is an enjoyable film that takes us into the intensity and competitive spirit of world class, prima donna, gourmet chefs. Bradley Cooper plays the lead here as an American chef named Adam Jones. Once a Paris sensation with two Michelin stars to his name, Jones blew it all on drugs, parties and women. But that’s the backstory.

Movie poster for ‘Burnt.’ Courtesy Reel Deal Theater

The film opens in New Orleans as Adam is doing what he calls “penance” for all that, now that he’s been sober for more than two years. He is focused on making amends, facing down his ghosts and regaining his culinary fame. Starting over in London, England, Adam reconnects with former Paris colleagues, simultaneously making the rounds of the city to taste the work of up and coming cooks, and slowly assembles a team for a kitchen he doesn’t yet have. He’s working on that, too, cajoling Tony (Daniel Brühl) into letting him take over the restaurant at his father’s hotel.

When things fall (or are forced) into place, Chef Jones works this new team hard in his kitchen, learning a few new tricks himself and adding dishes to his repertoire, with the goal of earning a third Michelin star and renewed fame. Along the way, he steals his future saucière Helene, played by Sienna Miller (Taya in American Sniper), from one of the better restaurants in town. In a side story, Helene’s young daughter Lily (Lexi Benbow-Hart) steals a scene or two along the way.

A couple of other actors worth mentioning in the film are Emma Thompson, in the role of Adam’s assigned psychiatrist, and Matthew Rhys, as Adam’s greatest rival chef. Uma Thurman has a cameo role as a restaurant critic Adam once knew.

As culinary themed movies go, this one is entertaining, taking you into the intensity of the kitchen but being realistic about the stresses endured there. You may not learn any cooking techniques from the film, but the respect for food and taste here may inspire your own next culinary efforts.

In “Burnt”, many of Adam’s interactions with old friends are in French with subtitles (which can go by fast on the screen) but this definitely lends authenticity to the back story. Kudos to Bradley Cooper, whose fluency with the language is perfection itself. As for the English spoken, the chef’s frustration in the kitchen is occasionally channeled into excessive use of “the F-bomb”; one reason for the “R” rating.

Although I enjoyed the movie, the editing was occasionally rough—not enough time on a scene, leading to an occasional feeling of choppiness. Part of the dialogue is lost in lines not well enunciated. But Cooper and Miller carry us through it all. Both their characters develop and evolve through the story, giving us a lift in the process. Rest assured, the film is worth the price of admission.

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