Burnt Review

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By Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)

 

It is an almost inevitable part of our lives that we all need to work. Not only for the psychological fact to fulfill a need of accomplishment, but also to make money to pay the unending bills that bombard us on a monthly basis. But the real test is finding a career in which a fire is lit inside you, that a passion flows from, and you look forward to taking on this job, this challenge, each and every day. That fire is on display, en fuego, with director John Wells latest film looking at the life of a top chef in the food industry in the film, Burnt.

 

Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) was one of the top chefs in the world, having earned two Michelin stars to his name, while working in restaurants around Paris. But drugs, alcohol, womanizing, violence, and debts to less than reputable people led to his downfall. After hitting rock bottom, he decides to go off grid and shuck oysters in New Orleans, trying to get clean. Once penance is paid, it’s time to head back to London and try to regain his reputation and earn that three star Michelin rating. With the help of an old sous chef friend, Michel (Omar Sy), young, talented chef Helene (Sienna Miller) and the backing of his old friend, Tony (Daniel Bruhl), will Adam be able to regain top form and get his name into the history books of the culinary world or will his past seek him out and destroy all that’s he worked so hard to strive for?

 

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Burnt is part drama, part comedy, part story of inner exploration, and part love story on many fronts. And, with so many genres of film thrown in, it has a hard time focusing on these specifics, which means certain elements of story aren’t explored as fully as we would like, leaving some feelings of incompleteness. We have Helene as a single mother, trying to be a chef in a profession that consumes most of one’s time, thus we don’t get to see as much development as a mother as we may like. There’s a romance that blossoms as the film goes on, yet isn’t explored as one might like with this type of film. We have the mentor-mentee element which begins then comes back in the final act. Yet, where the film succeeds in terms of story is the development of Adam Jones. It shows what real drive and determination is like, to have such a passion for what you do that there is no such thing as failure. You go until you accomplish your goals. This drive is a true testament to what we all can achieve should we focus and put all we are into making ours passions and dreams a reality.

 

That drive is displayed in the performance from Bradley Cooper, who has many elements of what one may think Chef Ramsey from Hell’s Kitchen would be like in his own restaurant. While this isn’t a role that stretches the actor to new heights, it does allow him to play a character he knows and can fully submerse himself in to. Cooper shows us the skeletons hanging in the closet and takes us through the inner demons he has to deal with in his attempt at another Michelin star. Catalyzing that is Emma Thompson in the role of a therapist whom Cooper must meet with for drug tests and counseling. Sienna Miller finds levels in her role, though more of it could be fleshed out with a little work on the script. As mentioned earlier, many aspects of the story are introduced but not truly delved into, leaving the audience wanting a little more. Yet Miller does well with the material she is given, showing growth as a chef and a balance as a mother. The rest of the cast plays their roles as needed, helping to move the story along, not hindering it in any way, and stepping up to provide needed emotion or intelligence as the scene demands.

 

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Burnt is a film we’ve seen before yet has elements of something fresh and new. Maybe it’s the take on the culinary world that gives it an added jolt of life. For those who are fans of Food Network, you’ll probably love this film. And for those who just enjoy a good story with something you can take away and apply to your own lives, there’s definitely something here for you as well. You won’t be blown away by this film, and it may not earn a Michelin star from you, but like most meals, you can find something good even if you’ve had it a few times before.

 

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


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